Pakistan opposition to agree on govt Sunday

Pakistan's opposition leaders were poised to decide on the makeup of a new coalition government Sunday after winning parliamentary elections last month, an official said.

Pakistan opposition to agree on govt Sunday
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, the widow of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, were to meet in Bhurban, a hill resort near the capital, Islamabad.

Sadiq ul-Farooq, a spokesman for Sharif's party, said Saturday the two men were expected to agree on the formation of the new government.

Sharif himself was quoted as saying on Sunday in the local daily The News that "the formation of government will be given final shape in Sunday's meeting."

Aides to Sharif and Zardari have been holding talks to discuss how to form a coalition government since the Feb. 18 elections when they routed the political allies of President Pervez Musharraf, leaving the U.S.-backed leader increasingly isolated.

Bhutto's party won the most votes, followed by Sharif's grouping. They lack the two-thirds majority needed in both the upper and lower houses of parliament to impeach Musharraf.

Sharif, who was ousted by Musharraf in a 1999 coup, wants Musharraf to quit and has insisted on the reinstatement of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry and other judges fired by Musharraf.

On Saturday, Musharraf urged winners of the February elections to turn to setting up a government.

"Put the politics on the back burner and run the government," he said in a speech at the offices of state-run Pakistan Television in the city of Multan.

In a sign of Musharraf's diminished political authority and the growing clout of the mainstream opposition parties, seven lawmakers who contested the election as independents have since joined Bhutto's party, lifting its strength to 120, according to the Election Commission.

Four more independents have lined up with Nawaz Sharif, giving him 90 seats.

Voters returned just 51 lawmakers from the former ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q to the 342-seat National Assembly, or lower house of parliament.

Eleven seats are yet to be filled, mainly because of litigation and the deaths of candidates, including Bhutto.

Agencies

Last Mod: 09 Mart 2008, 11:37
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