Musharraf to run for president


28 September, 2007

General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s President, has applied to run in the presidential election to be held on October 6, 2007.

He is seeking a second term as president in the face of the most widespread opposition to his military rule since he came to power in 1999.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz submitted Musharraf’s application to Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Farooq in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, on September 27, 2007. The submission of the application was broadcast live on television.

After submitting Musharraf’s application to the Election Commission, the Prime Minister told reporters that “Musharraf’s re-election is necessary for the continuity of policies and for the security of the country.”

Musharraf, a key ally of the United States in its campaign against terrorism, is backed by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-i-Azam party, which says a majority of lawmakers will support his re-election in voting on October 6, 2007 in the national parliament and provincial assemblies.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Supreme Court is considering petitions by Opposition leaders that Musharraf, 64, be barred from contesting the presidential election while he holds the post of army chief. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling by the end of this week.

Police blocked the Constitution Avenue in Islamabad – where the office of the Election Commission and the Supreme Court building are located – to prevent supporters of Opposition parties from holding demonstrations against Musharraf.

Last week, police had detained Opposition leaders and hundreds of their supporters to prevent protest rallies against Musharraf.

Wajihuddin Ahmed, a retired judge backed by a lawyers’ group in Pakistan, also applied to the Election Commission to run in the presidential polls. Lawmakers from the Opposition parties proposed Ahmed’s name.

Under Pakistan’s Constitution, a candidate is required to be proposed by at least two lawmakers.

Ahmed, 68, told reporters before submitting his application that Musharraf’s re-election would be “unconstitutional, unlawful and against political morality because the present parliament, which completes its term next month, cannot elect a new president for the next five years.”

The All-Pakistan Democratic Alliance, a group of Opposition parties holding about 80 seats in the 342-seat National Assembly – the lower house – said its lawmakers will resign on September 29, 2007, if the Election Commission rules that Musharraf is eligible to run.

Makhdoom Amin Fahim, vice-chairman of Pakistan People’s Party, the largest Opposition group led by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, submitted his application to the Election Commission. The party has said Fahim will run in the presidential election if Musharraf is disqualified.

At present, the ruling party has 684 lawmakers out of a total of 1,170, according to a report in Dawn newspaper.

Benazir Bhutto, 54, has said she will return from her self-imposed exile on October 18, 2007 to lead her party in the general elections that must be held by January 15, 2008. Benazir went into exile eight years ago to avoid corruption cases filed against her.

Opposition leaders are also requesting the Supreme Court to rule that Musharraf is too old to head the army.

Attorney-General Malik Muhammad Qayyum had told the court two days ago that Musharraf would remain army chief if he failed to win a second term. One of Musharraf’s lawyers told the court that Musharraf intended to quit as army chief if he was re-elected president.

General Musharraf became Pakistan’s military ruler after he ousted the-then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a military coup in 1999.





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