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Pakistan Plans Vote in October

Asia: Military ruler Musharraf, who will remain president, says the legislative elections will be free and fair.

January 25, 2002|From Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Signaling the end of more than two years of military rule in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf announced Thursday that legislative elections will be held in October.

Elections for national and provincial legislatures mean that laws will subsequently be enacted by elected representatives rather than military decree. Musharraf said the vote will be free, fair and impartial.

The announcement, which the president made at a human development conference in Islamabad, complies with a Supreme Court ruling. The court had ordered Musharraf, who took power in an October 1999 military coup, to bring back civilian rule within three years of the date of the takeover.

Musharraf will remain president and also commander of the military, the dominant institution in the country. That does not violate the court order, because the president is the head of state but a prime minister will run the government.

Musharraf has said he plans to remain in office for five years after the new parliament takes office.

The balloting will be held under a new electoral code announced last week under which all of Pakistan's 140 million people, including non-Muslims, will be allowed to vote for the same candidates.

Musharraf has also announced plans to increase the number of seats in the national and provincial parliaments to stimulate democracy in a country with a long history of authoritarian rule.

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