Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari isn't quitting — and the party hierarchy has not asked her to go.

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This article was published 21/4/2016 (2258 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari isn't quitting — and the party hierarchy has not asked her to go.

A beaming Bokhari stepped out of the Liberals' Molgat Place headquarters Thursday evening and laughed as though the notion of her stepping down was one of the silliest ideas she'd ever heard.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari speaks outside the Liberal Party offices Thursday evening, saying she'll stay on as Liberal leader. </p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari speaks outside the Liberal Party offices Thursday evening, saying she'll stay on as Liberal leader.

"No," said Bokhari. "We're going to go forward. We're excited."

She said there was no talk of her resigning and she did not offer to resign. "We talked about the results, we talked with our new MLAs," said Bokhari, pointing out that the Liberals went from one seat to three Tuesday night and almost doubled their popular vote from the 2011 election.

The party's executive board members did not have the authority to fire her Thursday evening. Bokhari acknowledged there will be an annual general meeting a year from now, but she does not expect any challenge to her leadership then.

"It was a very positive meeting," agreed veteran MLA and former leader Jon Gerrard, who said he and new MLAs Cindy Lamoureux (Burrows) and Judy Klassen (Kewatinook) will work together in the legislature with no one in charge.

Party president Paul Hesse confirmed the issue of Bokhari's leadership did not come up and there was no call from the board members present for Bokhari's resignation. "No one did," he said.

BORIS MINKEVICH / FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari held a quick scrum after the election.</p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / FREE PRESS FILES

Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari held a quick scrum after the election.

"It was a really positive meeting. We celebrated their election, we talked about the momentum going forward. The highlight was celebrating the election of the three MLAs."

Hesse said those present — whom he did not name — talked about engaging the candidates and volunteers who had made Tuesday what the Liberals are calling a success. Bokhari finished third in the Fort Rouge riding she chose to contest. NDP candidate Wab Kinew won the riding.

Hesse was less forthcoming when asked whether the party has the money to pay Bokhari to be leader.

"Look, Rana's the leader, and it was a very positive meeting," he said.

Hesse said the Tuesday evening session was a debriefing of the election. Bokhari met with the three caucus members Thursday, Hesse said, but there have been no plans made yet of how the Liberals will handle their legislature duties, the leader's role in that, or of Bokhari's contesting any future byelection to try to get a seat.

Bokhari had not made any public appearances since Tuesday night. She briefly went to the party's election night headquarters to hold a short media scrum, but did not deliver the traditional leader's concession speech and did not offer public congratulations to premier-designate Brian Pallister.

The Liberals must have four seats to qualify for official party status in the legislature, which carries significant additional resources ranging from paid staff and more office space to the right to ask questions in the daily question period.

Bokhari has not announced plans for any public events or news conferences.

The Liberals were far higher in the polls when the campaign started, and had legitimate hopes of challenging the NDP for official Opposition status.

But from Bokhari's first campaign event moments after the writ was dropped, it appeared she was not a polished speaker and offered policies that had not been well-researched or fleshed out with details. The 39-year-old lawyer had no previous political experience.

The Liberals had few staff and little evidence of money available for the campaign. Bokhari made one trip to Brandon but mainly stayed in the central part of Winnipeg for campaign announcements.

The Liberals came into the election holding only Gerrard's seat in River Heights.

It was a blow to the party's credibility when the Liberals lost five of their 57 candidates at the nomination deadline — three had not done their paperwork properly, a fourth missed the deadline, and a fifth was disqualified for having violated election rules by working as an enumerator in this election. Bokhari had to fire a sixth candidate when new details emerged about a domestic assault in his past.

There was also embarrassment for the party when Brandon West candidate Billy Moore called for hospitals to be closed, then later claimed it was a publicity stunt. Moore, 76, lives in Portage la Prairie and filed his nomination papers two hours before the deadline.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca