07/26/2018, 18.39
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Imran Khan claims victory in Pakistan elections

The party of the former cricket star is leading in 119 ridings, needs 137 for a majority. The party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, now headed by his brother, is leading in 61 seats. For EU observer, “overall situation of the general election was satisfactory.”

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, has claimed victory in the yesterday’s election even before the vote count is completed.

Appearing on television around 5.15 pm today (local time), the cricket start-turned politician said his party was in the lead. However, almost 24 hours after polls closed, no party has yet a clear majority.

Local media have taken Khan's victory for granted. With 49 per cent ballots counted (according to the latest update), the PTI was leading in 119 of the 272 ridings. A total of 137 seats is required for a majority.

For many of those who took to the streets to celebrate the results, Khan’s main challenger Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), had no hope of winning. The latter was leading in 61 ridings.

Vote counting is slow, apparently because of a failure in the electronic counting system, which forced election officials to count the ballots manually.

The turnout was around 55 per cent out of 106 million registered voters amid security concerns exacerbated by some Islamist attacks towards the end of the campaign.

Violence marred election day in Quetta, when an attack killed 31 people and wounded another 50.

This was the 11th direct election in Pakistan’s history. Elections were held for the National and the Provincial assemblies with 8,396 candidates running for 3,459 seats.

In addition to Khan’s party and that of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (now run by his brother Shehbaz), who could not run personally because he is behind bars, the other main contender was the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lead by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto murdered in 2007, leading in 40 seats.

Although delays have led to allegations of fraud and corruption by members of the PML-N, external observers believe that election was carried out properly.

Michael Gahler, chief observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission to Pakistan, said that apart from a few incidents of terrorism, the overall situation of the general election was satisfactory.

The EU official condemned the attack in Balochistan. “This is a deplorable and cowardly attack on a day when voters across Pakistan should be casting their ballots in a peaceful environment, without fear or hindrance,” said Mr Gahler.

“Violence must not undermine the elections and the democratic process. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the people of Pakistan,” he added.

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