Pakistan awaits new election date after Bhutto killing

( AFP ) - Pakistan election officials were Wednesday poised to announce the date of crucial polls, thrown into chaos in the wake of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

A few hours later President Pervez Musharraf is to address the nation for the first time since her slaying at a campaign rally last week, which set off days of unrest and calls for an international investigation.

Despite calls from the new leadership of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and another former premier Nawaz Sharif for the vote to go ahead on January 8 as planned, the election commission said to do so would be "impossible".

A senior election official told AFP that because of the widespread unrest, the parliamentary polls will now take place in February with the exact date to be confirmed Wednesday after talks with the parties.

A wave of violence, arson and looting has left 58 dead and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage, including to dozens of election offices.

A furore over the cause of Bhutto's death has added to the turmoil in this nuclear-armed nation, which under Musharraf's rule has been a key US ally in the fight against Islamic extremism.

Both the PPP and the party headed by Sharif, like Bhutto a two-time former prime minister, want early polls but seem set to be disappointed.

"It looks impossible to hold elections on January 8," election commission spokesman Kanwar Dilshad said.

The loss of voter lists and the shaky security situation has also delayed preparations for the election, seen as the next step in restoring Pakistan to civilian-run democracy after Musharraf quit the army in late November, eight years after seizing power in a coup.

Dilshad said discussions on a new date had taken into account Moharram, one of the most sacred months in the Islamic calendar, which in Pakistan runs from around January 10 to February 8 this year.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry called a press conference Tuesday to deny local reports that officials had apologised for its spokesman's assertion that Bhutto died from smashing her head on her car sunroof in the gun and suicide bomb attack.

It said there had been no apology but a request "to overlook the tone and style of the spokesman, which may not have been received well."

"There is no intention to conceal anything from the people of Pakistan," a ministry statement said.

The ministry spokesman had said an alleged Al-Qaeda figure was behind the attack but that no bullet or shrapnel was found in her, and that the lever of the sunroof had fractured her skull.

Pictures and television footage showing a man firing on Bhutto from close range cast doubt on the official version.

Bhutto aides who saw her body insist she was shot and have called for a UN probe, but government officials have dismissed those demands.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said there was little prospect of such a probe.

"An international commission is one thing, a UN commission is quite another -- because that pre-supposes the involvement of a third-party (country)," the minister told reporters at the start of a two-day visit here.

"Here, we can't say that with any certainty. As a consequence, unless UN rules were suddenly re-written, it would appear to me to be difficult."

According to Latif Khosa, a senior official in Bhutto's party, she had been due to go public with a dossier claiming intelligence and electoral officials were plotting to rig the polls in Musharraf's favour.

Bhutto was to unveil the dossier the night she died after first presenting it to two visiting US lawmakers, he said. "But that was not possible because she was murdered."

Bhutto has been succeeded by her 19-year-old son Bilawal as party chief.

However, the student at Britain's Oxford University is too young to sit in parliament and has left the country.

His father, Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari, is in effective charge until Bilawal completes his studies.

Subscribe to Trend in Google News! Subscribe
Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly actual topics in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Weekly tenders in the region (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Last week’s laws, orders and decrees in Azerbaijan (April 16-20)
Loading Bars
Azerbaijani FM talks bilateral issues with his Serbian colleague
Azerbaijani FM meets with President of ICRC
Quad leaders press for free Indo-Pacific, with wary eye on China
Iran to examine condition of Changuleh oil field
Azerbaijani ship embarks on maiden voyage after overhaul
Azerbaijani judoka wins gold medal in Zagreb
Azerbaijani FM meets colleagues from NAM at 76th session of UN General Assembly
Huawei's chief financial officer back in China
Turkish Airlines expands its flight network
Voting begins for Iceland's parliamentary election
Azerbaijan continues exercises with combat shooting jointly with Turkey in Nakhchivan (PHOTO/VİDEO)
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale September 26
Kazakhstan boosts trade with Sweden despite global pandemic
TEKNOFEST festival to be organized in friendly, fraternal Azerbaijan - Turkish president
Azerbaijan to limit traffic on Remembrance Day
Azerbaijani FM talks bilateral issues with his Kyrgyz colleague (PHOTO)
Britain expected to ease visa rules as truck driver shortage bites
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price dips
Azerbaijan negotiating on UNESCO Mission's visit to liberated territories - minister
Meeting of Halk Maslahaty of Turkmenistan's Milli Gengesh held in Ashgabat
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens
Azerbaijan confirms 1,099 more COVID-19 cases, 2,404 recoveries
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for September 25
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulates Turkmen counterpart
OIC Commission adopts declaration on results of mission to Azerbaijan
OIC experts visiting Azerbaijan's Ganja to view consequences of Armenia's missile strikes (PHOTO)
Turkmen company intends to export polypropylene yarn
Iran to boost crude oil extraction in Ilam Province
Digitalization - most important tool for ensuring transparency of transit traffic, says Azerbaijani minister
Azerbaijan's Azerpambig announces tender on purchase of spare parts for tractors
Georgia shares data on COVID-19 cases
Uzbekistan reveals number of vaccinated citizens as of September 25
Concentrix enters Georgian market
Weekly review of Azerbaijani precious metals market
Number of transactions at Uzbek stock exchange decreases
Kazakhstan's joint venture to purchase dosing pump through tender
Armenia, as a country in strategic future, doomed to disappear - Russian historian
Over 22,000 new Covid cases registered in Russia for first time since August 14
Iran to take part in exhibition on reconstruction of Azerbaijan's Karabakh
Weekly review of main events in Azerbaijan's transport sector
Iran against any occupation and aggression – Iranian ambassador to Azerbaijan
UzAuto Motors restores manufacturing of several Chevrolet models
Profit of Georgian insurance companies announced
Int'l organizations should investigate Armenia's environmental terror - MP
Azerbaijan MHI State Agency opens tender to acquire MS licenses
Tension in relations between Iran and neighbors - serves enemies, says Iranian MP
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
Uzbekistan shares COVID-19 data for September 25
Kazakhstan’s Ulba Metallurgical Plant opens tender to attract shipment services
Iranian currency rates for September 25
IFC supports National Bank of Georgia in amending Corporate Governance Code
IFC’s cooperation with National Bank of Georgia to help develop green bonds
Eni Turkmenistan Ltd opens tender for supply of materials
Azerbaijan notes increase in oil prices
OSCE MG co-chairs welcome meeting of Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs
Iran plans to increase exports to Iraq
Azercell Mobile Customer Care visits Shusha! (PHOTO)
Uzbekneftegaz develops new well, receives natural gas
Iran's membership in SCO positive move, but not a magic pill to solve all problems
Russia to increase share of low-carbon energy sources to 90% by 2035
S.Korea daily COVID-19 cases top 3,000 for first time after holiday
Australia urges to create ‘stronger, more independent’ WHO
Iran counts on thermal power plants to provide sustainable electricity in winter
Iran imports hay from Russia due to recent drought
UN chief calls for rapid decarbonization of energy systems
EU eyes investments in Baku port to make it greener and better connected digitally - EU official
2,324 more COVID-19 cases reported in Kazakhstan
Iran must ‘move quickly’ if it wants to resume nuclear deal talks: US official
Russian top diplomat, UN Secretary-General discuss Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine
U.S. CDC director says boosters needed to protect workers
Huawei CFO strikes deal with U.S. over fraud charges, allowing her to return to China
Children aged below 14 see highest COVID-19 rates in Ireland
Migrant camp on Texas border cleared, county judge says
PM Modi invites US President Biden to visit India
Heavy rains, flooding hit over 300,000 people in Sudan: UN
FMs of Azerbaijan and Armenia hold meeting with participation of OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs
UK records another 35,623 coronavirus cases
Intel breaks ground on $20 bln Arizona plants as U.S. chip factory race heats up
U.S. House set to debate $1 trillion infrastructure bill Monday - Pelosi
Greta Thunberg joins tens of thousands of climate protesters in Berlin
Russia’s import of cars from Turkey up
Azerbaijani chess team wins bronze medal of European Club Cup (PHOTO)
Turkey will strive to be a leader in climate change fight
Turkmenistan holds ceremony of presenting passports to those granted citizenship
Assistant to Azerbaijani president talks bilateral and regional issues with Iranian Deputy FM
Georgia shares data on public debt
Uzbekistan receives new batch of Chinese vaccine
Biden says there will be consequences over Haiti migrants' treatment
Iran, Singapore discuss bilateral issues
Turkey's manufacturing capacity continues to rise in September
Norway to lift all COVID-19 restrictions: PM
Brent crude oil surpasses $78 per barrel, first time since October 2018
Azerbaijani FM, EU high rep exchange views on further prospects for co-op (PHOTO)
Anglo Asian Mining shares date of payment of dividends to shareholders for 2021
TBC Capital publishes updated macro-sectoral overview of Georgia
Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers approves state and consolidated draft budgets for 2022
Azerbaijani FM met his French colleague at 76 session of UN General Assembly
UNHRC on Azerbaijan's initiative makes statement on mine impact on human rights
Iran always wishes peace, security, prosperity to Azerbaijan – ambassador
Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers holds expanded meeting (PHOTO)
All news