07/30/2013, 00.00
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Islamabad, MPs to vote for the new President. Peoples Party boycotts polls

by Jibran Kahn
Today’s vote chooses the successor to Asif Ali Zardari, who completes his 5 year term on September 9. Ruling party (the Islamic PML-N) candidate Himari Hussain favoured to win, the PPP participates in Assembly’s working session but desertes the vote, to protest against the Supreme Court's decision to anticipate ballot. No irregularities for Government.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Pakistan is preparing to elect the 12th president in the history of the Republic, who will succeed the current head of state Asif Ali Zardari, whose mandate expires on 9 September at the end of the five year period covered by the Constitution. The coalition government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has indicated their candidate in Himari Hussain. Former cricketer Imran Khan's opposition movement Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), has instead chosen former judge Wajhiuddin Ahmad. The Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the party of outgoing President Zardari would not give any names, in protest against the "hasty" procedure in the selection of the next head of state.

The voting procedure will be carried out today by secret ballot and will be held simultaneously, in Parliament and the four provincial assemblies that comprise the Republic. The operation started at 10 this morning and will end no later than 3 pm. The constituency called to choose the head of state in Pakistan is formed by MPs - recently rennewed following the vote on 11 May, which marked the end of the domination of the popular Bhutto and Zardari - and members of the four local assemblies (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and Bluchistan).

Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim, head of the Electoral Commission, has called on all parliamentarians to ensure the secrecy of the operations. Cell phones or any other electronic item will therefore not be allowed during the voting process.

However, the choice of the next president is overshadowed by the boycott announced by the former majority faction, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), to protest the decision of the head of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to anticipate the vote to July 30 from August 6, thus shortening the election campaign.

The MPs of the PPP participated in the preparatory work and interventions in the Assembly, but will not vote. In response, the Minister for Information explains that they may raise objections in the case of "postponement" of the vote, but not "if they are anticipated." The mandate of the outgoing Head of State expires on September 9, he should remain in office until the day before for ordinary business, but it is not excluded that he may voluntarily anticipate the date of his resignation.



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