10/06/2007, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Voting begins today for Musharraf, but results will be postponed

by Qaiser Felix
The Supreme Court has ruled that the results of the presidential elections underway today will not be made public until October 17th, when a decision will be handed down on general Musharaf’s eligibility. Votes ongoing for North West Frontier Assembly despite threats of a boycott. Bhutto’s party abstains.

Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Pakistan’s presidential elections got underway this morning with sporadic anti Musharaf demonstrations.  Other candidates for the presidential post along with the outgoing leader are: Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of former president Benazir Bhutto, who however has decided to abstain from the vote, and Wajihuddin Ahmed, one of the countries’s most respected former magistrates and favourite to win.  The results will not be made public until October 17th next, when the Supreme Court will hand down its decision on the eligibility of Musharaf’s candidacy.

 

The move was announced yesterday by Islamabad judges, who unanimously rejected calls to postpone the elections, presented by members of the opposition.  Law lord president , Javed Iqbal, underlined that final results cannot be published until the Supreme Court has pronounced on the out going’s presidents bid for  another mandate, which is being contested because of his holding on to control of the armed forces.

 

Members of parliament and of the Provincial Assemblies are being called to vote, while the swearing in of the new Head of State is set for November 15th.  In this way, the new president can announce parliamentary elections which should be held within a month.

 

Yesterday Musharraf signed a long awaited deal with his rival, Benazir Bhutto who promised not to boycott the vote in exchange for the quashing of all corruption charges against her which have kept her in exile for years.  Representatives of her party will limit themselves to abstaining, thus permitting the legal minimum vote as set down by law.

 

Neither has the North West Frontier Assembly followed through on its boycott threat.  However in Peshawar – the provincial capital – police clashed with lawyers who took to the streets in protest against today’s consultation.  Demonstrators burned images of the president close by the local parliament.

 

 

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