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Presidential election date set

Article published on the 2008-08-22 Latest update 2008-08-22 13:18 TU

Nawaz Sharif (Photo: Reuters)

Nawaz Sharif
(Photo: Reuters)

The election commission in Pakistan has set 6 September 2008 as the date for the national and provincial governments, to find a permanent replacement for Pervez Musharraf who stepped down on Monday. Nominations can be filed from 26 August. The government coalition meanwhile is trying to find a way to overcome differences, after one of the two main parties' threatened to pull out.


The president will be elected by members of the upper and lower houses of the national parliament in Islamabad as well as Pakistan's four provincial assemblies.

The result of the presidential election should put an end to disagreement in the coalition over who should succeed Musharraf, after he stood down on Monday after nine years in power to avoid being impeached by the coalition government.

Most members of the biggest party in the coalition, the Pakistan People's Party, PPP, want to nominate as president Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of their assassinated leader, Benazir Bhutto.

The presidency is one of the issues that is bogging down the governing coalition in Pakistan.

The four-party team has differing points of view on some important issues and campaign promises, mainly over reinstating the judges whom Musharraf  sacked in November 2007.

Leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, PML-N, Nawaz Sharif insists that the judges be reinstated.  The PPP are against the move and Sharif has threatened to pull the PML-N out of the coalition if the judges are not reinstated next week.

The fate of Musharraf himself, who has been replaced by a caretaker president, the speaker of the Senate is another delicate issue.

The PPP has said it believes Musharraf  could have immunity from prosecution, while the PML-N  - and other parties - argue that he should stand trial for abrogating the constitution, among other things, after the former general took power in a coup d'état in 1999.

Musharraf had granted amnesty to Zadari and his late wife Benazir Bhutto for corruption charges which had been brought against them.

As well as its political tangle, Pakistan has to cope with a resurgence of suicide attacks. On Thursday, 64 people died in a suicide bomb attack on an arms factory near the capital.  The attack was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. It was the second since Monday and Musharraf's resignation.

Meanwhile, officials say that Pakistani troops killed 21 militants, including two suicide attackers, in clashes near the Afghan border on Friday, near the town of Hangu in the north-west of the country.