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Pakistani Opposition Party Deadlocked Over Electoral Demands

By VOA News
07 December 2007

Pakistan's two main opposition parties remain deadlocked over a list of demands the government must meet to prevent an election boycott.

A committee made up of the parties of former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto saidFriday that it could not agree on 2 of 15 points on the list of electoral demands.

One difference focuses on the reinstatement of judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf during emergency rule. Mr. Sharif says the judges should be reinstated before the parliamentary elections, while Ms. Bhutto has indicated she wants the issue taken up after the January 8 poll.

Committee members also disagree over the deadline for the government to meet the conditions.

Both former prime ministers are expected to meet next week in an attempt to resolve the issues.

Ms. Bhutto, who is currently visiting her family in Dubai, told VOA's Urdu service Thursday that there is an 80 percent chance her party will participate in general elections set for January 8.

She said most opposition parties agree the ballot will be rigged in favor of President Pervez Musharraf's ruling party. She warned if the vote is not free and fair, the opposition will start what she called "a movement against the government."

Also on Thursday, Mr. Sharif and his supporters tried to visit ousted Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a strong critic of Mr. Musharraf, but were blocked by hundreds of riot police.

The government has forced the retirement of many senior judges, including Chaudhry, because they refused to take a new oath of allegiance after the president imposed emergency rule on November 3.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, Reuters and AP.




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