PPP boycotts Pak presidential vote
Pakistan's main opposition party yesterday announced it would boycott next week's election for a ceremonial head of state to protest against the manner in which the vote was brought forward.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the ballot would be held on July 30 instead of August 6 after the main ruling party complained that the original date clashed with the end of Ramadan.
However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the second largest opposition party led by former cricket hero Imran Khan, said they would contest the election despite reservations over the change of schedule.
Many lawmakers tasked with electing a successor to President Asif Ali Zardari will be on pilgrimage or offering special prayers at the tail end of the holy fasting month, the court said.
Twenty-three candidates applied to contest the vote, but the election commission told AFP it had accepted the nomination papers of only three.
Mamnoon Hussain, the chief candidate for the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party is considered a certain victor.
"We have been left with no alternative, but to boycott the election," said Senator Raza Rabbani, the presidential candidate for the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
Pakistan's new president will be elected by members of the upper and lower houses of parliament and of four regional assemblies.
Rabbani said that the Supreme Court decision made it difficult for him and other opposition candidates to campaign in four provincial capitals and the federal capital Islamabad in just two days.
The third candidate is a covering candidate for the PML-N, Zafar Iqbal Jhagra, a politician from the northwest.
Zardari, hugely unpopular for alleged corruptions, was elected after the PPP won elections in 2008 following the assassination of his wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto.
The PPP served a full five-year term in office, but lost heavily in May general elections won by a PML-N landslide.