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Pakistan opposition vows protests to press PM to resign during investigation
April 21, 2017 / 9:21 AM / 8 months ago

Pakistan opposition vows protests to press PM to resign during investigation

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani opposition party lawmakers tore up the agenda and shouted in a parliament session on Friday as they demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif step down during an investigation into his finances.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif waves from a vehicle as he arrives to attend the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Opposition leader Imran Khan said he would lead protests demanding Sharif’s resignation, saying the prime minister had lost the moral authority to stay in office while being investigated.

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday there was insufficient evidence to order Sharif’s removal from office but called for further investigation into corruption allegations in connection with the so-called Panama Papers leaks.

A five-member bench was split three vote to two in favor of Sharif retaining his position.

On Friday, opposition lawmakers chanted slogans demanding Sharif’s resignation and tore up the assembly’s agenda for the day, before the speaker suspended the session, television footage showed.

“I was the petitioner in the case, the hearing continued for four months, at least I should have been allowed to speak in the parliament,” Khan, a former cricket star, later told reporters outside the assembly.

Opposition leader Imran Khan arrives at the Supreme Court building ahead of its decision on a case related to the "Panama Papers" leaks, in Islamabad, Pakistan April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

The Supreme Court, in its 549-page judgment, ordered a joint investigation team be formed to look into allegations around three of Sharif’s four children using offshore companies to buy properties in London.

The investigating team has two months to complete its inquiry, after which a special bench will decide what action to take, the court said.

Slideshow (3 Images)

The prime minister and his children deny any wrongdoing.

The joint investigation team will comprise members from six different government bodies including intelligence agencies and financial regulatory authorities.

“At least three institutions are directly under the control of the prime minister and his ministers. I don’t see how they would take a stand against the prime minister,” legal expert Farogh Naseem told Reuters.

While the court’s decision has been celebrated by Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League as a victory, legal experts and analysts say the extended investigation undermines his authority as he heads into an election due next year.

Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Robert Birsel

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