Pakistan presidential poll date set

General Pervez Musharraf is expected to seek new five-year term in office.

    Musharraf says he will shed his army uniform
    after getting re-elected [AFP]
    The country's national parliament and its four provincial assemblies, which have all been in place since 2002, will vote in the ballot .
     
    Re-election bid
     
    Musharraf's lawyer announced this week the general would quit as army chief and restore civilian rule if lawmakers vote him back as president.
     
    The ruling coalition remains confident that it has enough votes to re-elect Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup.
     
    His current presidential term is due to expire on November 15.
     
    But the party of Benazir Bhutto, an exiled prime minister, whose talks with Musharraf over a possible power-sharing deal have stalled, has threatened to join other opposition parties in boycotting the vote.
     
    Such a boycott could rob the vote of some legitimacy in the eyes of Pakistan's 160 million people.
     
    Return from exile
     
    Nawaz Sharif, another exiled prime minister who is a rival to Musharraf, was deported to Saudi Arabia recently soon after returning to Pakistan after a seven-year exile.
     
    Musharraf had removed Sharif from power in the 1999 coup.
     
    Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Pakistan, said that opposition lawmakers have threatened to resign if Musharraf seeks re-election.
     
    He said such mass resignations would push the country into another crisis.
     
    Still, the main threat to Musharraf's re-election plan appears to be legal, including over changes recently made in rules for the presidential election that would benefit the military leader.
     
    The supreme court on Thursday was continuing hearing a raft of petitions, and a ruling on Musharraf's eligibility for the election is expected within days.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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