FACTBOX: Forming Pakistan’s government step by step

The leaders of Pakistan’s two main parties are trying to forge a coalition government following their resounding election victory over allies of President Pervez Musharraf.If they succeed, it will be the first time the two main parties in Pakistan have come together.

Analysts say their alliance could result in Musharraf being driven from office for violating the constitution when he declared emergency rule in November and purged the Supreme Court of judges who could have annulled his own re-election a month earlier.

Since the election, Musharraf has said he was not ready to resign.

The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which won the largest number of seats in the National Assembly without getting a majority, will nominate the next prime minister.

The PPP was led into the election by Asif Ali Zardari, following the assassination of his wife, former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. Zardari did not stand for election, and has said he does not intend to become prime minister.

The Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) led by Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister General Musharraf overthrew in 1999, secured the second largest number of seats. Sharif’s party is known as PML-N, or the Nawaz League.

Sharif, who returned from exile in November, a month after Bhutto, was barred from contesting the election.

Zardari and Sharif agreed on Thursday to work together to form a government of national consensus, but one excluding the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (PML).

Here are the steps entailed in forming a government in Pakistan:

— The Election Commission should announce official results of the elections within 14 days of polling. The commission is expected to declare the results by March 1.

— The president calls the inaugural session of the National Assembly, parliament’s lower house, after the official results are announced, but how soon after depends on whether there is a government ready. In 2002, Musharraf convened the assembly session more than a month after the election, to give time to political parties to agree on a coalition.

— The president invites a member of the National Assembly who commands the confidence of the majority of the members to become prime minister and form the government. Before the election of the prime minister, the newly elected members are sworn in, and they elect a speaker of the house and his deputy.

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