Pakistan: Khan's party says it got the support to form gov't

ISLAMABAD — The party of cricket star Imran Khan on Saturday claimed it had acquired the support of the lawmakers required to form a coalition government after winning this week's polls, as a secular party angered over alleged fraud rallied in the northwest.

"People have voted us into power and God willing, we will form a government," Fawad Chaudhry, the spokesman for Khan's party, told The Associated Press.

He did not say exactly how many lawmakers had agreed to join their future government, saying the announcement would be made when the National Assembly convenes next week for the swearing in ceremony of the newly elected lawmakers.

His comment came hours after Pakistan's elections oversight body released its final results, saying Khan won 115 of 269 contested seats in the National Assembly, while his nearest rival, Shahbaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, won 64 seats. Initially it had said Khan won 116 seats.

The party of former president Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan People's Party, bagged 43 seats.

Chaudhry said that the success of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the general elections meant the end of decades-long dynastic rule in Pakistan.

Still, several members of Khan's party are members of Pakistan's traditional ruling elite. He brought them on board as so-called "electables" he needed to win at the polls.

More than 2,000 supporters of the secular Awami National Party rallied in the town of Charsadda against fraud in the vote, in which it got one seat. A small demonstration was also held in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and the party called for another one on Monday.

Also Saturday, four newly elected independent lawmakers in the Punjab Assembly joined Khan's party after meeting with him.

It means Khan will try to form a coalition government in Punjab province, which has been the stronghold of Sharif since 1980s.

Sharif's party got slightly more seats in the Punjab Assembly than Khan's party.

Khan's party won a majority in the conservative Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, while Zardari's party dominated in the southern Sindh's provincial legislature. The restive Baluchistan province, which is troubled by militant violence, was won by a mix of small parties that will have to form a coalition to rule.

Sharif is being held at a jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi along with his daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in the same corruption case. Sharif was arrested on July 13 when he returned to Pakistan from London to face a 10-year prison sentence on separate corruption charges.

A Pakistani court will hear the appeals of Sharif and Nawaz on July 31.

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