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Ousted Pakistani PM re-elected as ruling party head

OUSTED PAKISTANI PM RE-ELECTED AS RULING PARTY HEAD

Former Premier Nawaz Sharif was re-elected unopposed as president of the ruling party -- Pakistan Muslims League (Nawaz group) -- for four more years Tuesday, according to state-run Pakistan Television.

The party's Chief Election Commissioner, Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, said no other candidate had filed nomination papers to contest Sharif's bid.

The re-election follows the passage of a controversial bill by the lower house on Monday allowing the former prime minister to take charge of the ruling party despite being disqualified by the country's top court this July in the Panama Papers scandal.

The Election Bill 2017 allows a convicted person to lead a political party, a move that many political analysts say would give a new lease of life to Sharif's political career.

The opposition parties have announced that they would challenge the bill and Sharif's re-election in the Supreme Court.

The 67-year-old politician continues to face multiple corruption cases after he was rendered ineligible as prime minister and head of his party when the Supreme Court announced a controversial verdict against him.

The court ruled in July that Sharif had acted in an untrustworthy manner by failing to declare a salary from his son's Dubai-based company ahead of the 2013 election. The court also ordered the opening of corruption cases against Sharif and his family members over revelations stemming from the Panama Papers scandal.

An Islamabad-based anti-corruption court, which is hearing the corruption cases, has fixed coming Monday as the date for indictment.

Sharif, who has held the premiership thrice but never completed a full term, maintains his innocence and has rejected all accusations of financial irregularities against him.

He has repeatedly said that all transactions made by his family members were fair and in compliance with Pakistani laws.

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