[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] on Tuesday disqualified [order, PDF] Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from being a member of Parliament since his April contempt conviction [JURIST report]. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] also announced that Gilani ceased to be the country’s prime minister since the date of his conviction and claimed that the office of the prime minister is currently vacant. The court ordered the Election Commission to issue a notification of Gilani’s disqualification. The court reasoned that the April conviction became final because the prime minister had failed to appeal the conviction released in April or the detailed reasoning released in May. Some have argued that only the parliament has the authority to remove the prime minister, not the courts. However, President Asif Ali Zardari [official website] announced [WP report] that he will obey the court’s judgment and try to find a competent candidate for the vacant prime minister position.
Gilani was convicted in April for contempt of court when the former prime minister refused to open a corruption case against Zardari who is accused of using Swiss bank accounts to fund bribes. Gilani had argued [JURIST report] that the president was under immunity as the head of state. The conflict between the prime minister and the court derived from a court decision striking down [JURIST report] the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) [text] which granted high level officials immunity from corruption charges.