UPDATE - Pakistan's election body says polls cannot be held this year

UPDATE - Pakistan's election body says polls cannot be held this year

Election Commission of Pakistan unveils 4-month plan for fresh delimitation of constituencies in line with new census results


By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan's top electoral body on Thursday announced that general elections will not be held on time, effectively delaying until next year.

The much-expected announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) comes following the approval of the controversial results of a new nationwide census earlier this month.

The hasty approval by the Council of Common Interests, a constitutional body that comprises the prime minister and the chief ministers of all provinces, means the ECP will need at least four additional months to notify new constituencies in the country in accordance with the latest census.

In a statement, the ECP announced the schedule for the fresh delimitation of constituencies in accordance with the new census results, which will be completed on Dec. 14.

After the completion of the exercise, the electoral body will require another 90 days to hold the general elections, meaning, polls cannot be held before March next year.

The national vote was otherwise scheduled for November this year following the dissolution of the government of former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Aug. 9.

According to the Constitution, if the lower house – National Assembly – or provincial assemblies are dissolved, polls must be conducted within the next 90 days.

The approval of the new census results has already been challenged in the Supreme Court by the country's top lawyers body, Supreme Court Bar Association.

- Political parties reject decision

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan rejected the ECP's decision, terming it "mala fide."

In a statement on Thursday, the party said it is going to challenge the approval of new census results in the apex court on Friday.

The ECP's schedule for fresh delimitations, it added, will also be challenged in the top court.

Jamaat-e-Islami’s Chief Sirajul Haq also urged the Election Commission to hold national vote within Constitutional time period of 90 days.

There was no immediate reaction from the other two mainstream political parties, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), and Pakistan People's Party.

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