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International | Government & Elections

Pak Opposition Divided on Polls
by IOL (reposted)
Friday Nov 30th, 2007 8:18 AM
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's main opposition leaders have stood divided over January's general election, with Benazir Bhutto saying her party now plans to take part and Nawaz Sharif along with key opposition figures vowing a boycott.
"We are taking part in elections under protest, we are not giving them any legitimacy. But if we do not participate we leave the field for others," Bhutto told reporters Friday in Islamabad as she launched the political manifesto of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP), reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

"Our policy is based on five "E's -- employment, education, energy, environment and equality," added the former two-time premier, who has been seen by many in the West as an ideal partner for Musharraf.

Bhutto welcomed Musharraf's promise Thursday to end the emergency, as well as his resignation as army chief the previous day and his recent announcement of a date for elections on January 8.

"Certainly these are good confidence-building measures, but more needs to be done," including mechanisms for ensuring that the elections are free and fair, Bhutto said.

But Bhutto, who has softened recently her anti-Musharraf tone, said she is reserving the right to boycott subsequently.

Bhutto said that she could "review our decision" on participating in the election if she could agree a common agenda with fellow former premier Nawaz Sharif and other parties.

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