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Pak general elections in Feb 2008

April 08, 2006 16:11 IST

Pakistan's general elections will be held in Febraury 2008 instead of next year as was scheduled earlier, a senior minister said on Friday.

The presidential vote will take place the month after.

The existing national and provincial assemblies will complete their five-year terms on November 16, 2007 and the next general elections have to be held within 90 days after their dissolution, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Niazi said.

The elections for the provincial assemblies will also be held in February 2008, he said. Niazi said the president was bound to dissolve the present assemblies under Article 52 of the Constitution after the completion of the five-year period.

The last general elections for the national assembly and the four provincial assemblies were held on October 10, 2002 and the assemblies were constituted on November 16, 2002.

The national and provincial assemblies elected President Pervez Musharraf, who took over power in a military coup in October 1999, for a five-year term.

Pakistan opposition parties, which were expecting the polls to be held next year, expressed displeasure with Niazi's announcement.

"We are expecting the elections to be held soon after the term of the National Assembly ends next year. The government wants to drag the polls schedule to gain maximum time," Pakistan People's Party spokesman, Faratullah Babar, said.

Both PPP, headed by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by deposed premier Nawaz Sharif, said they might boycott the polls if their leaders, who currently lived abroad were not permitted to return home before the elections.

Bhutto lives in Dubai in self-exile fearing arrest in connection with a host of corruption cases registered against her, while Sharif, who was sent on an exile to Jeddah, is now in London.

K J M Varma in Islamabad
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