Bhutto party delays Pakistan PM announcement

The party of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Thursday deferred a decision on who should become Pakistan's prime minister.

Bhutto party delays Pakistan PM announcement
Bhutto's party, which finished first in last month's elections, had been expected to nominate Makhdoom Amin Fahim, a longtime Bhutto aide from her home province of Sindh, as its candidate for the premiership.

But a meeting of its newly elected lawmakers at the residence of her widower broke up Thursday without even discussing the merits of the four main candidates, participants said.

"The consultation process will continue," Fahim told reporters as he left, shrugging of questions about the cause of the delay. This is democracy."

Lawmakers said Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto's husband and co-chairman of the party, had told them he would discuss the nomination with them in small groups in the next few days before making a decision.

"The legacy of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto must be fulfilled, and the party and democracy must be strengthened. Individuals come and go, but parties have to live on," said Shah Mahmood Qureshi, one of the other contenders.

Musharraf, who retired as army chief in November to become a purely civilian president, is expected to convene parliament later this month and invite the People's Party to form a government.

The party wants to form a coalition including the supporters of another former premier, Nawaz Sharif, and cut back the sweeping powers accumulated by Musharraf in eight years of military rule.

The new government is likely to try to remove the presidential power to fire the prime minister and dissolve the assemblies. It may also abolish the National Security Council, which gave the military a formal say in security policy.


Agencies
Last Mod: 06 Mart 2008, 17:11
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