The election for the new chief minister of Punjab will take place today (Saturday) at the provincial assembly at 11:30am, Radio Pakistan reported. The session where the members of the Punjab Assembly will vote to elect the new provincial chief will be chaired by Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari. A tough competition is expected between the two candidates – Hamza Shahbaz and Parvez Elahi. Hamza is the candidate of PML-N and other coalition parties, while PML-Q’s Elahi is being backed by PTI. The April 16 session will be held in line with the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Wednesday order, wherein it rejected Hamza’s plea to hold the early elections and restored the powers of the deputy speaker. The deputy speaker – whose powers were withdrawn last week – was asked by the court to hold the polls on April 16. The CM’s office has been vacant for nearly two weeks since ex-governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar – who was removed from his position last week – accepted Usman Buzdar’s resignation on April 1. In a symbolic session of the provincial assembly, the Opposition elected PML-N leader Hamza as the chief minister after Speaker Elahi sealed off the Punjab Assembly on April 6. Also on Friday, a Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench disposed of intra-court appeals filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi against LHC single bench orders of restoring powers of the Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly. The bench declared that Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari had right to preside over the session to be held on April 16 for election of the chief minister Punjab. The bench directed the Deputy Speaker to abide by his oath and conduct the elections of the chief minister in a fair, transparent and impartial manner as per the Constitution and rules. The bench further directed the Deputy Speaker to facilitate national and international media persons, observers and representatives of PILDAT and FAFEN during the election of the chief minister.