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Central & South Asia

Pakistan parties name presidential candidates

Ex-governor Mamnoon Hussain, the PMLN nominee, tipped to win, as Supreme Court brings forward election date to July 30.

Last Modified: 24 Jul 2013 14:30
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Zardari's PPP nominated Senator Raza Rabbani, but the ruling PMLN's Hussain is expected to win the poll [AFP]

Pakistan's main political parties have named their nominees for the upcoming presidential poll as the Supreme Court revised the date for the elections and asked the election commission to hold it on July 30 instead of August 6.

The court made the order on Wednesday because many of the politicians who will elect a replacement for President Asif Ali Zardari will be on pilgrimages or offering prayers on August 6 for the fasting month of Ramadan.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) party nominated Mamnoon Hussain, a former governor of southern Sindh province (PMLN) and favourite to win the presidential poll.

"I will be the president for everybody," Hussain said. "I will resign from my party office if I become president."

Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) nominated Senator Raza Rabbani and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, headed by former cricket star Imran Khan, nominated Wajihuddin Ahmed, a retired judge, as its candidate.

The PMLN won a majority in May's parliamentary election and their nominee was expected to win the presidential poll, in which members of the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies can vote.

Symbolic role

Zardari, who came to power in 2008 on a wave of public support after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto, had already announced his intention not to stand again. Given the PMLN's power he stood little chance of re-election in any case.

Following constitutional amendments brought in by the last PPP government, the Pakistani president has a largely symbolic role with little real power, although Zardari was often seen as a sharp political operator behind the scenes.

In Pakistan, the president is not elected by popular vote, but by voting in the Senate, National Assembly and the assemblies of the four provinces.

Political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said Hussain was likely to win the election because the ruling party has a majority in the National Assembly and the assembly of Pakistan's largest province, Punjab.

"It's just a numbers game," Rizvi said. "Anyone who gets the support of the ruling party can become the president."

The Election Commission of Pakistan is expected to follow the Supreme Court order and polling should be held on July 30 at parliament house in Islamabad and in the four provincial assembly buildings.

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