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Pakistan ruling party in talks to find new PM

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The Pakistani president and his political allies have entered a second day of discussions to choose a new candidate to replace the country's disqualified prime minister.

The ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) said it "accepted" a Supreme Court order on Tuesday that Yusuf Raza Gilani could not remain in his post.

President Asif Ali Zardari held emergency talks among top leaders in the ruling PPP after the disqualification.

Maula Bukhsh Chandio, a law minister in Gilani's outgoing cabinet, said on Wednesday that the coalition had given Zardari the power to choose a candidate, who has to be elected by polticians.

Another candidate spoken of was Ahmed Mukhtar.

Khuram Jehangir Wattoo, a PPP member, told the AP news agency that Zardari was to meet polticians from his party to discuss possible picks.

He said the National Assembly was likely to meet on Friday to elect a new prime minister.

Office term

Gilani, the nation's first-ever sitting prime minister to be convicted, can have the verdict reviewed, but has no formal appeal process available to him.

The PPP is the largest party in parliament but does not have a majority, so its coalition partners will insist on concessions for their support for a new premier and the process may not be smooth.

Whoever takes over will not have long in power as the government must call elections before March next year.

Under the constitution, polls can only be held under a caretaker government, which must be in place three months before election day.

Many analysts have speculated that the current political upheaval may expedite the polls, possibly in November.

The new prime minister will also likely run into trouble with the Supreme Court, which is likely to make the same demand of him, or her, as it did of Gilani, to initiate a corruption probe against Zardari.

The court has been criticised by some for taking political decisions and jeopardising the democratic setup in Pakistan.

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