Musharraf vote comes under fire

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2002 10:45:16 +0100

 Musharraf supporters
Musharraf supporters greet his announcement

Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon has criticised the Pakistan
president's decision to hold a referendum to extend his stay in power. 

And several opposition groups in Pakistan have described General Pervez
Musharraf's announcement as unconstitutional and have called for a

In his televised speech on Friday, General Musharraf said the
referendum, to be held in the first week of May, is to seek a public
mandate to remain president for another few years. 


Such a device has also been used in the past by a former military leader
in Pakistan [General Zia ul-Haq] to extend his term in office 

Don McKinnon 
In a statement issued in London, Don McKinnon said the road map given by
General Musharraf for the restoration of democracy did not include the
holding of such a referendum. 

The Commonwealth suspended Pakistan following General Musharraf's 1999

The Commonwealth secretary general is the first prominent world leader
to criticise the move. 

Many others are still holding back their comments. 

Valued ally after 11 September 

Senior Pakistani officials say they are not expecting any international
outrage, as General Musharraf is now regarded as an ally of the West
because of the support he has given for the US-led military campaign in

But there has been a strong reaction within the country, where several
opposition groups have issued a statement to condemn the move. 

Criticism has come from most of the Islamic groups, as well as the
mainstream opposition parties of the two former prime ministers, Benazir
Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. 

 Protesters demonstrate against Pakistan's campaign against militancy
Musharraf has his domestic opponents

Miss Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party says the decision is illegal,
unconstitutional and immoral, and the alliance of the six hardline
Islamic parties says it plans to start a nationwide campaign for the
boycott of the referendum. 

One of the serious concerns of the main opposition groups is General
Musharraf's declared intention to create a national security council in
order to constitutionalise the role of the military in the affairs of

So far, only some of the relatively small political groups have
supported General Musharraf's decision. 

But the military ruler is convinced that the majority of the people
support his policies and that they will come out in big numbers on the
day of the referendum to vote in his favour. 

Source: BBC online

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