Pakistan's parliament elects first female speaker
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Mirza, a former medical doctor who has previously served three terms in the National Assembly, was the joint candidate of the PPP, the(PML-N), the (ANP), and other allied parties.
She received 249 votes out of the 324 who were present. Her main rival candidate,from the former ruling party (PML-Q), received only 70 votes.
The result was announced by, the outgoing speaker. "Fahmida Mirza is declared to have been elected speaker of the National Assembly," he said, as other Parliament members pounded their desks in approval.
"This is my third tenure in the National Assembly and I believe it is time that we all work together to address the challenges facing the country," Mirza told reporters. "I am sure we will be able to face these challenges with the support of parliamentarians, our people and Pakistani media."
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a central PPP leader, said, "The election of Fahmida Mirza as speaker will be a big step towards the empowerment of women in Pakistan."
, parliamentary leader of the pro-Musharraf PML-Q, told Mirza, "This is a big test and I hope that with the honour that Allah has bestowed upon you, you will be able to live up to expectations."
Later, in elections for the deputy speaker, PPP candidatedefeated of the , which is allied with the PML-Q.
The coalition government headed by the PPP has yet to name a Prime Minister, but they are expected to announce their nomination in the next few days. Party insiders say the prime minister, who will be named by Benazir Bhutto's son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, will only hold office for a few months until Bilawal's father, Asif Ali Zardari, becomes eligible for the post.
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