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|2012-06-19 - Weird News|
Pakistan Supreme Court disqualifies prime minister
-- Windsor Genova - Fourth Estate Cooperative News Writer
Islamabad, Pakistan (4E) - Pakistan's Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has been disqualified from holding office since his conviction for contempt on April 26 after he refused to comply with a court order to reopen the money laundering case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Three justices also declared the position of the prime minister as vacant in their ruling on petitions challenging the Speaker of the parliament's May 24 ruling that the contempt conviction of Gilani does not mean he is disqualified from his position.
Gilani, Zardari and senior leaders of the ruling Pakistan People's Party are in an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis. On the agenda is the possible selection of Gilani's successor.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain defended the court's ruling, arguing it was their duty to interpret the law and the constitution and to stop all measures that violate them. He was referring to a provision in Pakistan's Constitution that says anyone convicted of defaming or ridiculing the judiciary is disqualified from being a member of parliament.
Attorney General Irfan Qadir, who represented Speaker Fehmida Mirza, claimed the Supreme Court violated the Constitution for issuing the ruling.
The clash between the judiciary and the executive branch of the government stemmed from the 1990s allegations that Zardari and his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, hid $12 million in bribe money from private companies in Swiss banks.
The Swiss government addressed the issue, but shelved the case in 2008 when Zardari became president of Pakistan.
The Supreme Court ordered Gilani to ask the Swiss government to reopen the case, but the prime minister refused, citing the constitutional immunity of the president from charges during his term.
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