Pakistan opposition leaders sign coalition agreement

Pakistan’s two major opposition leaders signed a formal declaration Sunday on forming a coalition government, and urged President Pervez Musharraf to convene Parliament without delay.

Asif Ali Zardari, widowed husband of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, and Nawaz Sharif signed the agreement at a news conference after a fresh round of coalition talks following last month’s general election.

Zardari is the de facto leader of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which won the most seats in the February 18 ballot and, along with Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), trounced Musharraf’s political allies.

“Coalition partners PPP and PML-N undertake to form a coalition partnership together for a democratic Pakistan for translating the mandate given by the people of Pakistan to the democratic forces through the February 18 2008 elections,” Sharif said reading out from the joint declaration.

“The leadership was of the firm opinion that the coalition partners are ready to form the government and the national and provincial assemblies should be convened immediately,” Sharif continued.

Musharraf, who faces the prospect of a hostile Parliament, on Saturday urged the incoming government to leave politics aside and focus on good governance, economic management and peace and stability.

“We need a stable government and peace in society,” he said, adding, “These are basic requirements to run the country’s affairs.”

He denied accusations that he was delaying calling the new Parliament, and said on Friday the new assemblies would be convened within 10 days.

Bhutto was killed in a suicide attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on December 27, causing the elections to be delayed. — AFP

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