Third Pakistani province votes against Musharraf

Other News Materials 13 August 2008 13:50 (UTC +04:00)

Pakistan's ruling coalition on Wednesday dealt another blow to embattled President Pervez Musharraf as a third provincial assembly demanded his impeachment, dpa reported.

The 168-member assembly of the southern province of Sindh unanimously passed a resolution that demanded a vote of confidence on Musharraf in the presidential electoral college or his resignation. If neither happens, the president should be impeached by Parliament, it said.

The legislators chanted slogans of "Go, Musharraf, go!" during the session.

One of Musharraf's devout allies, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), staged a walkout as the debate on the resolution started, leaving no one in the house to defend the beleaguered leader.

The Sindh assembly has around 69 pro-Musharraf members from the MQM and three other smaller parties.

"We think it is an unconstitutional move, and we chose to abstain from the proceedings," Jam Maddad Ali, leader of the opposition, told reporters outside the assembly.

Separately, three members of Musharraf's most trusted party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, allied themselves at the last minute with his opponents from the Pakistan People's Party.

Dozens of Musharraf's allies in the provincial assemblies have defected this week as ruling coalition leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif initiated proceedings for his impeachment in a joint session of both houses of Parliament, the National Assembly and Senate.

The provincial votes are merely a way to prepare the ground for an eventual impeachment vote in the national Parliament, expected to be held later in the month.

"President Musharraf is not a suitable candidate for the post of president," Ayaz Soomro, Sindh's law minister, said as he opened the debate.

With three provinces banding together against the retired army general, it left just the south-western province of Balochistan to vote on impeachment, which was expected by Friday.

"This is another victory for Pakistan's ruling coalition and democracy," Information Minister Sherry Rehman told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The president has refused to bow to the calls for his resignation and has said he would "face the impeachment motion with a democratic spirit."