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Pakistan top court rules provincial polls delay illegal

Government has insisted that elections cannot be held amid economic crisis

The Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad has ruled that provincial elections should go ahead.   © Reuters

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday that assembly elections in two provinces should go ahead by May 15 after it ruled that an election commission delay of the votes was illegal, three TV news channels and a lawyer said.

The provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were governed by loyalists of former prime minister Imran Khan, who has been pushing for elections throughout the country since he was ousted a year ago after losing a vote of confidence.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had delayed polls in the two provinces to Oct. 8, citing a lack of resources. The elections were originally due to be held by April 30.

The Supreme Court ruled that the delay was illegal and voting should be held between April 30 and May 15, media reported.

Khan's lawyer, Ali Zafar, confirmed the ruling to reporters.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected Khan's call for new elections and his government had backed the election commission's delay, saying it was not possible to organize elections while the country was struggling with an economic crisis.

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