Sunday, 4 November 2007

Pakistani President Suspends Constitution for the Third Time

It seems that every time Pervez Musharraf gets close to having to face the electorate his country has a crisis and he has to suspend the constitution. General Musharraf came to power in the wake of a 1999 coup d'etat that ousted democratically elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Countries including the United States and Canada have often been very supportive of Musharraf's regime.

Since coming to power Musharraf has previously suspended the constitution twice and has now suspended it for a third time thereby blocking elections.

Hours after declaring this most recent state of emergency Saturday, November 3rd, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf ordered troops to take a television station's equipment and put a popular opposition leader under house arrest.

The Pakistani government also issued a directive warning the media that any criticism of the president or prime minister would be punishable by three years in jail and a fine of up to $70,000.

When asked about the current situation, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said The United States doesn't support any extra-constitutional measures taken by Musharraf.
"The situation is just unfolding," Rice said. "But anything that takes Pakistan off the democratic path, off the path of civilian rule is a step backward, and it's highly regrettable."

The United States itself has recently passed a similar law giving the state the power to declare martial law and suspend elections in the event of a crisis. President Bush "jokingly" said last month saying that he might stay in power after is presidential term ends.

In Canada, Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier called for all sides to refrain from violence and respect human rights in the troubled country. Although until very recently Prime Minister Harper has referred to Musharraf as a close ally, Ottawa was quick to condemn the General's most recent actions and urged Pakistan to reinstate judges and allow free elections.

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