Pakistan: Election date announced

Islamabad, 20 Sept. (AKI) - Pakistan will hold its presidential elections on 6 October, the election commission announced on Thursday.

President Pervez Musharraf is expected to seek a second five-year term as president. His lawyer said earlier this week that he would give up his post as army chief if he is re-elected.

The last day for filing nominations has been set for 27 September. Pakistan's president is not elected directly, but through a ballot of Pakistan's parliament and its four provincial assemblies.

Pakistan's opposition parties have called on Musharraf to seek election from a new parliament instead of the outgoing assemblies. Parliamentary elections are due in Pakistan and must be announced by mid-November and held by mid-January.

The opposition parties have also threatened to resign from parliament if Musharraf does not quit his military role before a presidential election.

However the government has said that it has enough seats to re-elect Musharraf anyway.

Musharraf has faced increasing pressure to his rule throughout 2007. The country's supreme court is currently hearing six petitions challenging Musharraf's dual role as president and head of the armed forces and his eligibility to stand in the election.

Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999 in which he ousted then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif went into exile in 2000 and attempted to return earlier in September only to be deported within hours to Saudi Arabia.

Another former prime minister Benazir Bhutto announced last week that she intends to return to Pakistan on 18 October to contest the parliamentary elections.


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