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Pakistan court rules blocking vote to oust premier unconstitutional

FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad

Pakistan’s Supreme Court says Prime Minister Imran Khan’s move to dissolve parliament was illegal and ordered the house be restored.

The decision on Thursday came after four days of hearings by the top court. Khan will now face a no-confidence vote by lawmakers that he had tried to sidestep. The assembly will likely convene to vote on Saturday.

A major political crisis was triggered when Khan and his allies thwarted the motion by opposition lawmakers that seemed certain to unseat him.

The move “is declared to be contrary to the constitution and of no legal effect, and is set aside”, the court ruled.

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Khan dissolved parliament on Sunday and set the stage for early elections after accusing the opposition of being part of a “foreign conspiracy” to remove him from power.

His opponents had garnered the 172 votes needed to oust him in the 342-seat house after several members of his own party and a key coalition partner defected. But the deputy speaker of parliament, a member of Khan’s party, threw out the no-confidence motion.

The opposition claimed Khan violated the constitution and took its case to the country’s top court.

On Thursday, the fourth day of hearings, Khan’s lawyers defended the controversial move and said the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to intervene in parliamentary affairs.

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Pakistan’s top court or its powerful military have consistently stepped in whenever turmoil engulfs a democratically elected government in the South Asian nation. The army has seized power and ruled for more than half of Pakistan’s 75-year history.

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