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Voting starts for Pakistan's new president

Islamabad, July 30, 2013, (IANS): 12:55 IST
Reuters file photo for representational purpose only.
Members of the national parliament and provincial assemblies in Pakistan began voting for the country's new president Tuesday amid the boycott of the poll by main opposition parties.

Polling opened at 10 a.m. in the joint session of the National Assembly and the Senate, and in the four provincial assemblies and would continue until 3 p.m. without any break, reported Xinhua.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has fielded senior party leader Mamnoon Hussain for the office of the president. The opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or Justice Movement has nominated a former court judge Wajihuddin Ahmed.

It is an one-on-one contest as the major opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has boycotted the elections over the change in the original date of polling, together with two other parties, namely the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and the Awami National Party (ANP).

The Supreme Court, on a plea by the PML-N, ordered the elections to be held July 30 nearly a week ahead of Aug 6, a previous polling date announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The PPP leaders said they did not have enough time to campaign.

The election is being held through secret ballots simultaneously at the Parliament House and the four provincial assemblies. The results will be unofficially announced after the counting is completed and confirmed later, said an official.

As many as 1,123 national and provincial lawmakers will cast the votes.
The chief justice of the Islamabad High Court is presiding over the polling process at the Parliament House while the chief justices of the four provinces are presiding over the process in the provincial assemblies.

A spokesman of the ECP said that the election will be held through secret ballot while Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim has asked the voters to ensure secrecy of ballot papers when casting votes.

The spokesman said the legislators cannot carry mobile phones or any other electronic devices through which picture of the ballot papers could be taken in the premises during the voting process.

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