China's Bo Xilai stripped of parliament seat

Posted at 10/26/2012 10:46 AM

BEIJING - Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has been expelled from the country's parliament and stripped of his legal immunity, clearing the way for his prosecution, state media said Friday.

The announcement follows intense speculation on the fate of the former party boss of the southwestern city of Chongqing in the lead-up to a once-in-a-decade leadership transition set to begin on November 8.

State news agency Xinhua said the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) removed Bo from his post late last month, but made the announcement on Friday at a bi-monthly session.

It now puts the focus on when Bo will face trial for a litany of alleged crimes, with some commentators now expecting the court case to come after the Party Congress, a pivotal meeting at which the Communist Party selects new leaders.

Bo's expulsion from the NPC comes after he was expelled from the Communist Party last month, when state media announced he would "face justice".

This was seen as an unprecedented public rebuke for a senior Chinese party official as authorities looked to lay to rest the damaging episode that shocked China and saw Bo's wife convicted of murder.

Bo, the party boss of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, had been seen as a candidate for promotion to the party's top echelons.

But he was brought down earlier this year by murder allegations against his wife Gu Kailai that came to light when Bo's key aide and police chief Wang Lijun sought refuge in the US consulate and detailed his alleged crimes.

The charges against Bo look likely to result in a lengthy prison sentence, political analysts say. His wife was handed a suspended death sentence, commonly commuted to a life sentence.

Bo was removed from his Chongqing post earlier and analysts said the affair exposed deep divisions within the party as he retains a large following among left-leaning party members.

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