Referendum on extending Musharraf's rule for 5 years to be held on April 30, state radio says

Tuesday, April 9th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ A national referendum on extending President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's rule for five more years will be held on April 30, state-run radio reported Tuesday.

The Election Commission of Pakistan set the date Tuesday as Musharraf was launching his campaign at a rally in the eastern city of Lahore.

Musharraf, a key U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, announced the referendum last week during an address on national television. He gave no date but said the vote would take place in the first week in May.

He was scheduled to address a rally Tuesday in the eastern city of Lahore to urge voters to support his presidency in the upcoming referendum.

``Millions of people will participate in Tuesday's meeting to express their support to Musharraf,'' the governor of Punjab province, Khalid Maqbool, said. Lahore is the capital of Punjab.

The referendum would establish his control ahead of elections in October to choose the two houses of parliament, which normally select the president.

Pakistan's main alliance of political parties has urged its supporters not to participate in the referendum. But a government spokesman, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, on Monday dismissed the boycott as the act of ``self-serving political leaders who have always tried to grind their own axes at the cost of the poor people of the country.''