Islamabad, Sept. 20: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf will seek re-election on October 6 despite legal challenges in the supreme court and a slump in popularity, officials announced today.
However, Opposition parties vowed to boycott the vote and protest in the streets as the nation awaits a court decision on whether the President can run.
According to an Election Commission announcement, the process will begin with the filing of nomination papers by candidates on September 27.
Facing legal challenges in the supreme court for holding the offices of President and army chief, Musharraf said on Tuesday that he would relinquish the post of army chief soon after the elections but before taking oath of office as President for the next term.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said the ruling coalition would have “a clear majority” for Musharraf among the federal and provincial lawmakers. The announcement of the poll schedule “will augur well for democracy in Pakistan”, Aziz said.
After the election date was announced, political foes accused Musharraf of trying to illegally force through his re-election. “Pervez Musharraf has once again tried to flout the constitution through the Election Commission,” said Siddiq-ul Farooq, a spokesman for the party led by Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister Musharraf ousted. “The letter and the spirit of the Constitution do not permit Musharraf to be a candidate.”
The resignation threat could deny the presidential vote legitimacy and prolong Pakistan’s political uncertainty. Opposition parties have called for nationwide street protests on Friday, and Ali Ahmed Kurd, a senior lawyer, said protesters would besiege the Election Commission office and “tear up” Musharraf's nomination papers.