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Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan barred from holding public office

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Pakistan’s election commission has told former Prime Minister Imran Khan that he can’t run for public office again. The former cricketer has said that the decision was made for political reasons.

Mr Khan was accused of incorrectly declaring details of foreign dignitaries’ gifts and the proceeds from their alleged sale.

Rolex watches, a ring, and cuff links were among the gifts.

His lawyers have stated that they will appeal the commission’s decision to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, Mr Khan urged his supporters to protest the decision, claiming that fundamental rights and democracy had been buried in Pakistan.

Social media videos showed police using tear gas to disperse his supporters who were protesting outside the capital, Islamabad. Security in the city has been improved.

Mr Khan later asked people to end their protest.

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According to the written ruling, Mr Khan “made false statement [sic] and incorrect declaration before the commission in the statement of assets and liabilities filed by him for the year 2020-21” and thus attracted disqualification, according to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

As a result of his disqualification, he “cease[s] to be a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and his seat has accordingly become vacant,” according to the ruling.

According to legal experts cited by Dawn, this means Mr Khan is disqualified until the end of the current National Assembly term, which began in 2018.

According to BBC’s Anbarasan Ethirajan, the unanimous decision by a five-member panel of the election commission is a huge setback for the former premier. Imran Khan is still extremely popular.

Mr Khan admitted last month that he sold at least four gifts he received as prime minister and that they were included in his income tax returns.

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All gifts must be declared by government officials, but those under a certain value may be kept. According to the AFP news agency, in some cases, the recipient can buy them back at a discount of around 50%.

Mr Khan, who has denied the charges, previously stated that he did not make some gifts public for national security reasons, but in a written submission admitted buying items worth nearly $100,000 (£90,000) and later selling them for more than twice that amount, according to AFP.

According to Faisal Chaudhry, a lawyer on Mr Khan’s team, the election commission tribunal has no jurisdiction in the matter and that the decision will be challenged.

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Mr Khan was deposed after losing a no-confidence vote in April of this year.

He has been a vocal critic of the government and the country’s army since then.

The former leader has been touring the country, delivering fiery speeches calling for new elections.

The charismatic politician was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2018, but he clashed with the country’s powerful army near the end of his term. He lost his parliamentary majority as a result of a series of defections.

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