ISLAMABAD: Uncertainty surrounds the exact date when the election for the new prime minister and the oath taking will be held as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is yet to finalise results of the July 25 polls and notify the winning candidates.
Given the situation, it’s unlikely that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan will take the oath as prime minister on Aug 11, informed sources told Dawn.
“It’s a touch-and-go situation,” a senior ECP official said while commenting on Mr Khan’s announcement that he would take the oath on Aug 11.
He said the final notification of the returned candidates would be issued after receiving consolidation statements from the constituencies where the ECP had ordered recounting and submission of returns of election expenses by the winning candidates.
The official referred to Section 98 (3) of the Elections Act 2017, which reads: “Every returned candidate shall, within ten days from the poll of an election, submit a return of election expenses under section 134 and the Commission shall not notify in the official Gazette the result of a returned candidate who fails to submit his return of election expenses.”
Schedule for presidential election to be issued soon after newly-elected members take oath
He said that under the law, three days would be given to the independent candidates to join a political party if they so desired, on the basis of which the share of reserved seats for women and minorities would be worked out.
“Let us assume that all the returned candidates submit their returns of election expenses by the last date set for the purpose — August 4 — it will take two days for issuance of notifications to take it to August 6,” said the official. He added that the independents would then have three days to join a political party — meaning August 9 would be the last date for it. He said the calculation of share of parties in the reserved seats would take another two days, and then the names of the returned candidates would be published in the official Gazette.
“Moving on a fast pace then can only ensure the first session of the National Assembly on August 12, where the newly elected members would take the oath, followed by the election of the speaker and deputy speaker,” said the ECP official. He said the newly elected speaker would then announce schedule for the election of the prime minister, adding that under the normal practice the prime minister was administered the oath of the office by the president the day following his election.
The official said the election to the office of prime minister was most likely to take place on Aug 15.
When contacted, PTI information secretary Fawad Chaudhry agreed that the oath taking of the new PM would not be possible on Aug 11, but expressed the hope that it could be done by Aug 14 — the Independence Day.
“Yes, we had desired that the oathtaking should take place on August 11, but this seems to be impossible,” he remarked.
Answering a question, he said it was the party’s desire that the swearing-in ceremony was held at a public place, preferably at the Parade Ground in front of the Parliament House, but confirmed that it would now be taking place at the President House.
Meanwhile, with the term of President Mamnoon Hussain expiring on Sept 9, the polls to elect his successor are all set to hit a snag.
An official of the ECP pointed out that election to the office of the president under Article 41 (4) of the Constitution was to be held not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the term of the president in office.
That means the elections at the latest were to be held by Aug 8, and the schedule for the polls was to be announced some two weeks before it.
However, a proviso attached to the constitutional provision reads: “Provided that, if the election cannot be held within the period aforesaid because the National Assembly is dissolved, it shall be held within 30 days of the general election to the assembly.”
The official pointed out that nomination papers could not be filed by the presidential candidates till the electoral college was complete. He said the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies served the electoral college for presidential elections. He said the schedule for the presidential elections would be issued soon after the newly elected members of the national and provincial assemblies took the oath.
Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2018