Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified Friday from holding public office following a lengthy corruption case into his family’s finances.
The ruling, delivered by five justices from Pakistan’s Supreme Court, was unanimous. It comes a year before Sharif’s third term in office was due to end.
The court concluded that a “significant disparity” existed between his family’s declared wealth and its known sources of income. Under Pakistani law, the nation’s Supreme Court has the authority to dismiss the prime minister. Sharif quickly stepped down, saying he did it to show his respect for the country’s judiciary.
The judgement follows an investigation into Sharif ‘s finances after the Panama Papers leak of 2015, which revealed his sons owned several offshore companies.
The family has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case. Hussain Nawaz, one of the sons, previously acknowledged owning offshore companies but said the funds used to set up the businesses abroad were acquired legally.
Pakistan is not due to hold elections until next year and it is not clear who will take over the position until then. Sharif’s governing political party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, will likely select an interim prime minister. Pakistan’s finance minister, Ishaq Dar, and Muhammad Safdar, a parliamentarian, were also barred from office.
“This decision is not surprising but we are disappointed,” Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb, a member of Sharif’s party, told reporters shortly after the ruling.
Over 150 people were killed Sunday after an overturned oil tanker in Pakistan burst into flames.
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