Pakistan's New Parliament Elects Prime Minister

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Pakistan has a new prime minister. The National Assembly in Islamabad elected Yousaf Raza Gilani to head the government Monday. Gilani was a cabinet minister under the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and he comes from the high command of Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party.

Gilani is now the official leader of the coalition government dominated by the two parties that swept last month's elections. That coalition is packed with outspoken opponents of President Pervez Musharraf.

Pakistan's New Prime Minister Challenges Musharraf

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Pakistan's parliament on Monday chose Yousaf Raza Gilani, a loyalist of slain leader Benazir Bhutto, as the nation's new prime minister.

Gilani, a longtime aide to Bhutto, moved quickly to challenge President Pervez Musharraf by ordering the immediate release of all judges detained under the president's orders. A prosecutor also said a Pakistani court has acquitted Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, in the murder of a retired judge.

"Mr. Gilani is a man who suffered from Musharraf's martial law," said Ahsan Iqbal, a lawmaker for one of the four parties that agreed to form a new coalition government opposed to the former army general who seized power in 1999. "He understands well that getting rid of dictatorship is important."

Gilani's Pakistan Peoples Party now dominates the legislature after sweeping to victory in elections last month. The National Assembly voted 264-42 Monday to confirm Gilani to the post. He will be sworn in Tuesday by Musharraf.

Also Monday, prosecutor Naimatullah Randhawa said a court has acquitted Zardari "due to lack of evidence" in the murder of Nizam Din and his son. He was charged in 2002 with playing a role in the shooting deaths of the men in Karachi in 1996.

Zardari took control of Bhutto's party after her assassination in December.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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