PAKISTAN’S prime minister Nawaz Sharif has stepped down after the supreme court disqualified him from holding office over allegations of corruption and ordered criminal charges to be filed against him and his family.

A five-judge panel said in a unanimous decision that Sharif was disqualified for not remaining “truthful and honest” after considering evidence against him.

It also ruled that thrice-elected Sharif could no longer serve as a member of the National Assembly, a powerful lower house of the parliament. The court directed the country’s anti-corruption body to file corruption charges against Sharif, his two sons and daughter in the next six weeks for concealing their assets.

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The panel also ordered corruption charges filed against finance minister Ishaq Dar, a close relative of Sharif.

Sharif’s party expressed its disappointment over the court order.

Information minister Maryam Aurangzeb said their Pakistan Muslim League ruling party will issue a detailed reaction after consulting Sharif’s advisers.

The court asked President Mamnoon Hussain to “ensure continuation of the democratic process”.

Hussain is expected to convene the National Assembly once Sharif’s ruling party nominates his successor.

After the court’s ruling, Sharif consulted party leaders on nominating a candidate to replace him. That person will serve as prime minister until March 2018, when the next general elections will be held.

The supreme court asked the election commission of Pakistan to issue notification of Sharif’s removal.

However, Sharif quickly stepped down, saying he did it to show respect for the country’s judiciary. In a statement, Sharif’s office said justice had not been served.

His resignation has created a murky legal mess with constitutional experts at a loss to explain who is in charge in Pakistan until his successor is nominated. It was not immediately clear when that would be or who it would be.

Legal experts say Sharif will now nominate someone to be his replacement under constitutional rules.