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Pakistan: PPP backs Zardari for President

August 21, 2008 00:33 IST
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Pakistan People's Party parliamentarians on Wednesday backed party chief Asif Ali Zardari for the post of President but he said a decision would be made only after consulting all members of the ruling coalition.

The PPP lawmakers made the suggestion during a dinner hosted for them by Zardari at his residence, parliamentarian Farzana Raja told reporters. She said all the lawmakers told Zardari that he was the "most suitable candidate" to be the next President.

Zardari was quoted by Raja as saying that a decision on the PPP's presidential candidate would be made after consulting all coalition partners and after the meeting of the party's central executive committee on Friday. During a recent interview, Zardari had ruled himself out for the post of President.

Reacting to the suggestion made by the PPP lawmakers, PML-N spokesman Siddique-ul-Farooq said a final decision would have to be made during a meeting of the coalition's leadership.

He added that PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had no interest in the President's post. The PML-N wanted "an acceptable person from a smaller province" to be nominated for the position, Farooq said.

Former President Pervez Musharraf resigned on Monday to avoid impeachment by the ruling coalition. Elections to choose a new President will be held by mid-September.                                   

Addressing the dinner meeting of the PPP lawmakers, Zardari said the coalition's move to impeach Musharraf was not an easy one but "had to be taken to strengthen democracy and democratic institutions". He said Musharraf's resignation was "a manifestation" of slain PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto's saying that "democracy was the best revenge".

Musharraf's resignation had "proved once again that the decision to participate in the elections of February 2008 was a correct decision even though some people at the time forcefully advocated boycotting the elections", he said.

"Now that Musharraf was out of the way, the PPP and the coalition had to concentrate on other critical issues affecting democracy on the one hand and addressing the common man's problems like inflation, law and order and unemployment on the other," Zardari said.

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