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Pakistan Puts Off Elections Until February 18

From a dismayed AFP:

Pakistani policemen stand guard outside the presidential palace in Islamabad.

Pakistan postpones vote until February 18

by Marc Carnegie

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan on Wednesday postponed general elections until February 18 following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, which sparked days of unrest that left dozens of people dead.

Bhutto’s party and others have opposed the delay but with many election offices wrecked in the unrest that convulsed the nation after her killing, election officials said holding the vote next week was not possible.

“In the light of the circumstances, the new date for general elections is 18 February 2008 instead of January 8,” chief election commissioner Qazi Mohammad Farooq told a news conference.

“I assure all political parties that the elections will be fair, free and transparent. I appeal to them to accept this decision in the supreme national interest and participate fully,” he said.

The delay was announced hours before President Pervez Musharraf was to address the nation on state television, in a speech that officials said would appeal for unity and calm after Bhutto’s killing at a campaign rally last week…

Bhutto’s murder set off a wave of violence, arson and looting that has left 58 people dead and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage, including to many election and administrative offices.

“It affected printing of ballot papers for four days and created a hindrance of the distribution of ballot papers,” said Farooq, the election commissioner.

He also said there had been suggestions to postpone the vote until after the Muslim holy month of Moharram — which takes place from around January 10 to February 8 this year. The month is often blighted here by sectarian violence…

If they have to wait for a non-holy month, they have a long wait.

Still, maybe this will give Mrs. Clinton time to figure out who is running and for what.

Not that anyone should expect her to understand such niggling details.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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