The Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz on Wednesday reached an agreement to form a coalition government, nearly two weeks after the national elections.

The top leaders of the two parties held a joint press conference and announced that they now have the required numbers to form the government. A party or a coalition needs at least 134 seats of the elected seats for a simple majority in the National Assembly to form the government.

Pakistan’s National Assembly has 336 seats, of which 266 are decided by direct voting and 70 are reserved seats. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz won 79 seats and the Pakistan Peoples Party 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan, with 17 seats, has also joined the coalition along with three other smaller parties.

The Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari confirmed that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Shehbaz Sharif would be the candidate for the prime minister’s post. Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Asif Ali Zardari would be the candidate for president.

A Parliament session will be called by February 29 for the MPs to formally elect the new prime minister.

The announcement comes amid allegations of poll rigging by the jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. On Wednesday, the party described the coalition comprising Bhutto Zardari and Sharif as “mandate thieves”.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was forced to field its candidates as independents after the country’s Supreme Court blocked the party from using its electoral symbol. Khan, the party’s chief, is in jail after being convicted in multiple legal cases.

The party has claimed that it has won 180 seats instead of 93 seats, as shown by the official tally.

“Manufacturing a hung Parliament through extensive manipulation and electoral fraud, in order to impose a failed coalition against the will of the people of Pakistan will not change reality: the people's choice is Imran Khan,” the party said on Wednesday.

On Saturday, a bureaucrat had also alleged that the country’s chief election commissioner and the chief justice were involved in rigging the election.

“I should be punished for the injustice I have done and others who were involved in this injustice should also be punished,” Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha said, claiming that losing candidates “were made to win” the election. He later resigned from the post.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has formed a high-level committee to investigate the allegations.

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