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President accepts Fakhru Bhai’s resignation

President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday accepted the resignation tendered by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim before embarking on a visit to Iran.

In pursuance of article 217 of the constitution, the chief justice of Pakistan will now nominate a judge of the apex court as acting chief election commissioner till a new commissioner was chosen by a parliamentary committee for a five-year term.

Justice Ebrahim, who was the first chief election commissioner to have been appointed with an extended term of five years under the provisions of the 18th amendment of the constitution on July 23 last year, became the first head of the electoral body to have resigned.

Instead of assigning a reason for his decision in his resignation letter, Justice Ebrahim highlighted his performance in holding free and fair elections despite threats and brazen attacks on his family. He observed that the newly-elected members of the parliament should have the opportunity to forge new consensus and choose a new chief election commissioner.

His resignation however was linked to the controversy over the last minute changes in the schedule for presidential election. Justice Ebrahim was displeased with the Supreme Court’s decision to change the schedule and had tried to convince fellow members of the commission to resist the verdict to protect the independence of the commission.

Under article 213, the premier in consultation with the leader of opposition in the National Assembly shall forward three names for appointment as chief election commissioner to a parliamentary committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person.

The committee to be set up by the speaker shall comprise 50 per cent members from the treasury benches and 50 per cent from the opposition.

In case there is no consensus between the prime minister and the opposition leader, each shall forward separate lists to the parliamentary committee for consideration which may confirm any one name.

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