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MMA boycott could lead to fall of NWFP, Balochistan governments

Islamabad, Sep 27 (IANS) The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan governments could fall as Pakistan prepares for presidential elections on Oct 6 with the decision of the Islamist conglomerate Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) to quit the legislatures.

The alliance is opposing General Pervez Musaharraf’s re-election bid and has decided that its lawmakers across the country will quit to “complicate” the election process, Dawn newspaper said Thursday.

Though it will make the election controversial, the move is unlikely to affect the presidential poll as Musharraf’s supporters have a majority.

The MMA government in NWFP will disappear automatically within 48 hours after Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani asks the provincial governor to dissolve the 124-seat provincial assembly, as per the plan.

In Balochistan, the PML-Qaid led government of Chief Minister Jam Mohammad Yousaf will become politically untenable after the MMA walks out of the coalition as it will lose its majority in the 65-seat provincial assembly.

Most other opposition legislators in the province could also resign their seats, the newspaper said.

The planned resignations or boycott by the entire opposition, including the country’s largest opposition party, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), will drastically truncate the presidential electoral college of both houses of parliament and the four provincial assemblies, reducing it to 702 from 1,170.

Opposition members of the 100-seat Senate will not resign and only boycott the vote because the upper house is not subject to the next general elections – to be held by the end of the year or early next year – unlike the assemblies whose five-year term expires on Nov 15.

The present electoral college, which will lapse Nov 15, will still retain a majority of President Musharraf’s loyalists, led by the ruling PML-Q and including the Sindh-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the NWFP-based breakaway PPP faction led by Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and some independent National Assembly members from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

But its massive depletion and the potential fall of two provincial governments will put a question mark on the legitimacy of the exercise at home and abroad, the newspaper said.