Pakistani court OKs referendum on Musharraf

April 28, 2002|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

KARACHI, Pakistan - The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a referendum to be held Tuesday to extend the presidency of Pervez Musharraf is constitutional and can proceed as planned.

The court unanimously rejected three petitions from opposition parties and a lawyers association that argued against the constitutionality of what amounts to election by referendum.

Musharraf, a general who seized power in 1999, announced the referendum as a way of extending his term for five more years.

The Supreme Court has rarely ruled against a military leader.

In 2000, the court upheld the constitutionality of Musharraf's coup. However, it ordered a return to civilian rule in October of this year.

The return to civilian rule is to be accomplished with the election of a new Parliament in October, and it is normally the role of Parliament to select the president.

But the general used a constitutional provision allowing Musharraf to call a referendum on "important national issues" to justify the vote on his tenure.

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