May 26, 2018 / 6:29 PM / 6 months ago

Pakistan to hold general election on July 25: officials

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan will hold a general election on July 25 and President Mamnoon Hussain has approved the date, electoral officials said on Saturday, as the government enters its final week in office.

Pakistan’s government and parliament is due to be dissolved on May 31, when a new interim prime minister and an interim administration is meant to take over.

However, political wrangling between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the opposition in parliament had delayed the announcement of the new interim premier.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, or Justice Party, is expected to be the main challenger to the ruling party.

The outgoing government of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is only the second to complete a five year term in office, which underscores a democratic transition in the nuclear armed nation.

The upcoming election is due to be held at a time of growing political instability, with the ruling PML-N party accusing the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since independence in 1947, of interfering in politics and trying to weaken it.

The military denies involvement in politics.

The interim administration usually does not make any major decisions except for supervising elections until a new government is elected, though it may be forced to act to shore up the $300 billion economy amid a worsening macro-economic outlook.

Pakistan’s foreign reserves are rapidly depleting and the current account deficit has widened sharply over the past year, prompting many analysts to speculate Pakistan may need another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

However, Pakistan is expecting to obtain fresh Chinese loans worth $1-2 billion to help it avert a balance of payments crisis, Pakistani government sources have said.

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Richard Balmfoprth

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