Opposition denounces Musharraf

Pakistan's opposition has demanded President Musharraf seek parliament's approval for sweeping powers he awarded himself last year.

    Pakistani opposition leaders are uniting against General Musharaf

    Sena

    tors from an Islamist alliance of the Muttahida

    Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) and Pakistan

    Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) thumped desks and chanted slogans

    against Musharraf before walking out of the senate chamber on Thursday.

    The combined opposition is running a relentless campaign in both

    houses of parliament to force Musharraf, who appointed himself

    president in June 2001,

    to face a presidential election.

    They have been boycotting parliament since its first sittings in

    February this year.

    Sweeping powers

    "Our protest in the parliament will continue until the

    government brings a constitutional amendment package before it and

    Musharraf gets himself elected from the parliament," MMA Senator

    Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani said.

    General Musharraf, also Pakistan's army chief, gave himself

    sweeping powers under constitutional amendments he introduced just

    two months before the end of his three-year

    Musharraf (R) appointed himself
    president after taking over the
    country in a coup

    military rule.

    The powers include the right to sack the elected parliament and

    to hold the dual posts of army chief and president until 2007.

    The amendments also gave the armed forces an unprecedented role

    in governance under a civilian-military National Security Council.

    Parliament paralysis

    The bitter standoff over the amendments has kept the first

    parliament since Musharraf's coup in limbo.

    In 11 months since it

    was elected it has passed no bills other than the national budget.

    While religious parties are ready to accept Musharraf in

    military uniform for a limited period, the PPP and PML-N of former

    prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif respectively are

    determined to have a civilian ruler.

    "Whether in uniform or without it, General (Musharraf) is not

    acceptable to us, or his constitutional amendments," PML-N senator

    Ishaq Dar said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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