From combined dispatches
President Pervez Musharraf has asked the National Assembly to reconvene tomorrow to elect the prime minister, who would be sworn in the following day.
Mr. Gilani, from the central province of Punjab, was a close aide to Mrs. Bhutto and spent four years in jail on allegations he abused his authority as parliament speaker under Mrs. Bhutto’s second term as prime minister in the 1990s. He was freed in 2005.
The naming of a prime ministerial candidate was stalled for weeks, fueling speculation that Mr. Zardari wanted the job for himself. He now shares control of the party with his and Mrs. Bhutto’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
Mr. Zardari could contest a by-election and win a seat in parliament to qualify to run for prime minister as early as this summer. In that case, Mr. Gilani would be a stand-in until Mr. Zardari could run.
“It’s not a nomination you’d expect for a five-year term,” political analyst Masooda Bano told Reuters news agency. “He’s proved his loyalty, but even in the public mind he doesn’t have that strong a presence.”
Mr. Gilani will face an opposition candidate from Mr. Musharraf’s Pakistan Muslim League-Q party, who will be named today. However, that nomination is largely symbolic because Mr. Musharraf and his allies lack a majority in parliament.
The choice of Mr. Gilani came as a clear snub to PPP vice chairman Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who was long presumed the front-runner after leading Mrs. Bhutto’s party during her nearly eight years in exile.
Still, Mr. Fahim said he would not quit the party.