Musharraf to meet opposition demands or face poll boycott
( RIA Novosti ) - Media said on Tuesday opposition leaders are threatening to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections due January 8, if President Pervez Musharraf does not meet their demands.
Former prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif agreed last night to compile a list of demands, which will be submitted to President Pervez Musharraf before the parliamentary elections.
''We agreed to draw up a charter of demands and give it to the government. We will give the government a certain amount of time to fulfill the demands. If that is not done, then we feel polls will not be free, fair and transparent. Then we can go towards a boycott,'' Sharif was cited by India's NDTV as saying.
Musharraf, who stepped down as military commander last week in response to opposition demands, pledged to lift emergency rule in the country December 16, but Bhutto says an independent election monitoring body should be formed as the current election commission is controlled by the president.
Sharif is expected to demand the reinstatement of Supreme Court judges fired with the introduction of emergency rule on November 3.
Representatives of the opposition leaders, who returned to the country last fall after being in self-imposed exile for eight years, would draw up the demands in the near future.
But Pakistani political experts said Sharif still needs to persuade Bhutto to join the boycott, because she has said she will run in the elections, although "under protest."
Pakistan's All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) announced last week their intention to boycott the January elections. Sharif said the upcoming election cannot be fair as long as Musharraf remains president.
The APDM, an alliance of 32 opposition parties, including the Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League, expects a number of other opposition leaders, including Bhutto, who leads the Pakistan Peoples Party, to join their boycott.
One month after his reelection to the presidential post, Musharraf announced emergency rule, suspended the Constitution, banned broadcasting for independent television channels and brought troops into main cities, citing an increase in militant activity. General Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999. He has since retained his presidential title, as well as the right to dissolve parliament and dismiss the government.