Zardari's party boycotts Pakistan's presidential poll

Zardari's party boycotts Pakistan's presidential poll

The main opposition Pakistan People's Party today decided to boycott next week's presidential election, saying it was left with no other option after the Supreme Court ordered the advancing of the poll.

Senior PPP leader and presidential candidate Raza Rabbani said the rescheduling of the election from August 6 to July 30 had drastically curtailed the time for campaigning.

"We have been left with no alternative but to boycott the election," Rabbani told reporters.

"The Supreme Court did not issue us any notice, nor did they hear us or provide us an opportunity to present our point of view...a unilateral decision was made," he said.

The Election Commission had announced the poll would be held on August 6, which falls on the 27th day of the holy month of Ramzan that is considered sacred.

Acting on a petition from Raja Zafrul Haq, chairman of the ruling PML-N, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the election would be held on July 30.

The PML-N did not react to the PPP's decision to boycott. The PPP's move will not affect the outcome of the election as PML-N candidate Mamnoon Hussain is poised to easily win the contest.

The PML-N has a clear majority in the electoral college comprising members of the four provincial assemblies and parliament.

The election will be held despite the boycott by a major party as more than a dozen candidates are running, including one nominated by the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf led by former cricketer Imran Khan.

Khan said his party will participate in the election despite reservations over the change of schedule. "My party and I think the PPP is right that very little time has been given to candidates for campaigning. The Election Commission should have thought about this," he told reporters.

After the scrutiny of nomination papers, the final list of candidates will be issued tomorrow. The new President will be sworn in on September 8 and will replace incumbent Asif Ali Zardari, who announced earlier that he would not seek a second term.

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