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Musharraf Wins Election, Still Faces Ouster
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Musharraf Wins Election, Still Faces Ouster


Musharraf Wins Election, Still Faces Ouster
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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

Pervez Musharraf has won today's presidential election in Pakistan. General Musharraf received all but two of the votes cast in the country's two houses of parliament, the legislative bodies that elect presidents in Pakistan along with the provincial legislatures. Those figures have just been announced by the election commissioner, but they are unofficial. The Pakistani Supreme Court could still decide not to allow Mr. Musharraf to be sworn in for another term if they decide that his candidacy has been illegal.

NPR's Philip Reeves joins us from Islamabad.

Philip, thanks very much for being with us.

PHILIP REEVES: You're welcome.

SIMON: And in theory, the court could rule that it was illegal for Mr. Musharraf to run while he was still General Musharraf, is that right?

REEVES: Yes, that's right. Technically speaking, the court could decide when it's finished deliberating about the petitions that have been put before it that it isn't illegal for General Musharraf to have run in this election. And, therefore, theoretically, it could decide that this election is actually invalid from Musharraf's point of view.

However, supporters of Musharraf and the government here are believed that now the election's been held, it has some kind of de facto legitimacy. And it was interesting to me that the results, which are not supposed to be officially announced, were in fact announced by the election commissioner.

SIMON: Now, did General Musharraf, President Musharraf, in a sense, mollified the opposition, at least Benazir Bhutto's party, by reaching this agreement, which would pardon anybody who has been convicted of corruption charges?

REEVES: Yes. The Pakistan People's Party of Benazir Bhutto abstained today, although some members of the party disagree with this strategy. They do seem set to enter, now, an agreement with Musharraf on power sharing, a key part of which is the dropping of corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto. That's the largest party in Pakistan's group of opposition parties. The others, many of them, actually resigned in protest before the vote was held. But they are divided and have lost a lot of steam in recent weeks when it comes to opposing Musharraf.

SIMON: Now, the Pakistani Supreme Court has certainly shown in the recent past that they are willing to rule against President Musharraf. If they do so now, does this throw the power-sharing agreement that Benazir Bhutto and General Musharraf have apparently reached into some jeopardy?

REEVES: I think the power-sharing agreement could be a separate issue, which may indeed be legally challenged by some of Musharraf's opponents. The key issue is whether the election itself is deemed to be legitimate. Some analysts believe that the Supreme Court will not have the, if you like, the muscle or the inclination to overturn an election that's already taken place.

And so although we've been told that today's results are unofficial, Musharraf has, in effect, won this election, and has been elected for another five-year term as president although he insists that he will be taking off his uniform. He will step down as army chief of staff in the near future.

SIMON: NPR's Philip Reeves in Islamabad. Thanks very much.

REEVES: You're welcome.

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