The swearing-in ceremony of Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz appeared to be hanging in the balance as Governor Omer Cheema, who has reportedly been sacked by the federal government, refused to administer oath to the new leader of the house.
PML-N leader Hamza on Saturday was elected as the new chief minister of Punjab securing 197 votes amid the chaos that erupted in the provincial assembly, but rival PML-Q candidate, Pervaiz Elahi, termed the polls as “illegal”.
On the direction of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Punjab Governor Cheema was removed from his office, on Sunday, after he postponed the swearing-in ceremony of the chief minister-elect and sought an inquiry report from Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi over the election of the new chief minister.
Cheema held consultations with Elahi, former chief minister Usman Buzdar and the constitutional team about the status of the Saturday’s assembly session in which Hamza was elected as chief minister after a violent confrontation between opposition and treasury benches lawmakers.
Aso read: Hamza ‘elected’ Punjab CM
The governor had decided to send the constitutional recommendations to the president, which will be reviewed by his legal team.
Speaking to the media earlier in the day, Cheema condemned the violence which took place in the provincial assembly on Saturday. He underlined that such incidents set a very wrong precedent. “I am a political worker and have fought elections. This is a very wrong precedent being set,” he added.
He alleged that CM-elect Hamza had used state powers on the polling day against his opponents — PTI and PML-Q. If he had enough votes, then he should not have made the polling process controversial by creating unrest in assembly hall, he added.
He also raised question over the legal status of this election and asked whether the election for Punjab’s chief minister were conducted as per the Lahore High Court’s directions. He highlighted that he had summoned a report from the Punjab Assembly secretary related to the ruckus and violence that took place during the session on Saturday.
The governor sought reports from the assembly secretariat while directing them to clarify four questions, including whether the deputy speaker conducted the assembly proceedings from the rostrum or from the gallery, if Pervaiz Elahi was tortured in the assembly hall and if police entered the assembly hall. He also directed the secretary of the assembly to provide footage of the assembly session.
He also said that Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari acted in a ‘partisan way’. His office will write letters to the advocate-general of Punjab as well as the speaker related to the polls. He said sitting in a constitutional office, he cannot endorse an unconstitutional act. “I will start these [oath-taking proceedings] once I am satisfied that these elections were conducted according to the Constitution and LHC’s order,” Cheema maintained.
Punjab Advocate General Ahmad Awais had already raised questions on the legality of the process of CM election and declared it illegal.
It is pertinent to mention here that speaker of the house can administer oath to the CM in the absence of governor and if speaker also refused to administer oath then president can appoint any other authorised official.
Sources said that President Arif Alvi can nominate Lahore High Court chief justice for oath-taking of the Punjab CM.