Musharraf asks hostile Pakistan assembly to convene



Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf has called for the National Assembly to convene on March 17, following the victory of his opponents in last month's parliamentary election, state-run television reported on Tuesday.

 

Musharraf's allies were routed in the February 18 vote, and he is faced with the prospect of inviting the victors to form a government that could drive him from power.

 

"President Pervez Musharraf has convened the national and provincial assemblies on Monday, March 17," Pakistan Television reported.

 

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto won the most seats, followed by the party of Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister Musharraf deposed in 1999 when he came to power as a general following a military coup.

 

Both parties on Sunday signed a pact to form a coalition and, in a major challenge to the isolated president, they vowed to restore the judges he had sacked after imposing a six-week emergency rule in early November.

 

Party officials have said that Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's widower and her political successor, would announce the name of the PPP's candidate for the prime minister's slot after Musharraf called the session.

 

Zardari's deputy, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, had widely been expected to get the job, but his chances faded after Sharif's party objected to his contacts with Musharraf.

 

Ahmed Mukhtar, an industrialist and former commerce minister, has emerged as a strong contender, but many members-elect of the PPP are urging Zardari to take the premiership after contesting a by-election.

 

At present, Zardari is ineligible because he does not have a seat in the National Assembly. (Reuters)

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