Pakistan’s parliament on Monday elected opposition lawmaker Shahbaz Sharif as the country’s new leader, defeating Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“Mohammad Shahbaz Sharif is declared to be the prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” said Asad Sadiq, parliament’s acting speaker.
Sharif was the only contender and was elected after more than 100 lawmakers from Khan’s Pakistan Justice Party staged a walkout of the National Assembly in protest, according to the Associated Press.
Khan, who has a conservative Islamist ideology, was ousted early Sunday after losing a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Deserted by his party allies and a key coalition partner, the opposition pushed Khan out with 174 votes – just two more than the required simple majority.
Elections won’t take place until next summer. Khan is demanding they take place earlier and is channeling anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, accusing Washington of conspiring with his opponents to topple him, the wire service also reports.
Such conspiracy theories are reportedly resonating with his young support base, which often considers Washington’s post 9/11 war on terror to be unfairly targeting Pakistan.
Sharif’s election is not expected to be a fast and easy solution to Pakistan’s economic problems including high inflation and an energy crisis. He will govern with a small House majority but with enough votes to pass laws in the country’s 342-seat assembly, the Associated Press also reports.