February 19, 2008

Bhutto party in coalition offer

Filed under: ELECTIONS - 2008 — civilsocietypakistan @ 9:36 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 19:19 GMT


PPP supporters

Supporters of Ms Bhutto’s party have been celebrating in the streets

The party of Pakistan’s late former PM Benazir Bhutto – the biggest winner in Monday’s election – says it is ready to form a coalition with the PML-N party. A union of Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with the PML-N of another former PM, Nawaz Sharif, would have more than half parliament’s seats.

The main party backing President Pervez Musharraf suffered heavy defeats.

The president’s position has never looked more precarious, the BBC’s Chris Morris in Islamabad says.

If a new governing coalition manages to muster a two-thirds majority in parliament, it could call for Mr Musharraf to be impeached.

Mr Musharraf was re-elected to the presidency last October, in a vote boycotted by the opposition as unconstitutional.

PPP (Bhutto’s party) : 87
PML-N (Nawaz Sharif): 66
PML-Q: (pro-Musharraf) 38
MQM (Sindh-based): 19
ANP (Secular Pashtuns): 10
Others: 38
Source: Geo TV

He has been a major US ally in the “war on terror” but his popularity has waned at home amid accusations of authoritarianism and incompetence.

The US State Department described Monday’s election as a “step toward the full restoration of democracy”.

‘End of dictatorship’

At a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Bhutto’s widower and the PPP leader, Asif Ali Zardari, said his party would “form a government of national consensus which will take along every democratic force”.

“For now, the decision of the party is that we are not interested in any of those people who are part and parcel of the last government,” he said, seemingly ruling out any coalition with the Pakistan Muslim League’s pro-Musharraf wing, the PML-Q.

The PPP has won 87 seats so far, according to the website of private TV network, Geo.

PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari
PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari invited Mr Sharif to join a coalition

The PML-N, or Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz, is in second place with 66 seats so far.

Mr Sharif said earlier on Tuesday that he was prepared to discuss joining a coalition with Mr Zardari’s party in order “to rid Pakistan of dictatorship forever”.

The two parties so far have a combined total of 153 seats in the 272-seat parliament.

President Pervez Musharraf main parliamentary ally, the PML-Q, has already admitted defeat.

The party has come a distant third, with 38 seats so far.

PML-Q chairman, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, told Associated Press Television News his party accepted the results “with an open heart” and was prepared to “sit on opposition benches”.


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