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Musharraf Wins Presidential Vote as Expected, Victory Not Yet Official

Pakistani legislators have cast their votes for president in a controversial election, and President Pervez Musharraf is the victor, as expected. But the Supreme Court could later overturn the result, and its decision will not be known for more than a week. Daniel Schearf explains in Islamabad.

Only lawmakers from Pakistan's national and provincial parliaments voted for president Saturday.

General Pervez Musharraf's supporters have a majority in the parliaments, so it was expected that he would win another five-year term as president.

But that does not mean he has popular support. The public did not participate in the election, and many people, like 47-year-old Tariq, say the vote is illegitimate.

"I don't think it's [an] election because the opposition has already given their resignations against the presidential election. So, this presidential election has no value in my point of view," he said.

Before the vote took place, almost 200 opposition legislators resigned their parliamentary seats in protest. They argue that as head of the army, Mr. Musharraf is not allowed to run for president. They also said the election should be postponed until new parliaments convene next year.

Legislators from Pakistan's largest political party, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) did not resign, but they joined in the protest by abstaining from Saturday's vote.

The PPP's leader, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, made a deal with Mr. Musharraf Friday: her party would give the vote legitimacy by not resigning, in return for the dropping of corruption charges against her and other former party officials.

The negotiations have subjected them both to accusations of political opportunism. Talat Masood is a retired general and political analyst. He says the political wheeling and dealing has moved Pakistan toward instability.

"What the country needs today is strengthening of the rule of law, strengthening of institutions and not taking any action which further weakens them. And I think these compromises etcetera are further weakening the state. They may be strengthening these individuals in some form, but they are definitely weakening the state," said Masood.

Saturday's vote could still be nullified by the Supreme Court. The court ruled Friday that the election could go ahead, but said the result will not be official until it rules on Mr. Musharraf's eligibility to run for re-election while still in uniform. That decision is not expected until later this month.