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Bhutto's Party to Decide Successor, Elections

The Pakistan People's Party of slain leader Benazir Bhutto meets amid continuing unrest to choose a successor, and decide if it will take part in elections set for January 8. The meeting follows the reading of Ms. Bhutto's will. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins reports from Islamabad.

Assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party, or PPP, is holding a crucial meeting Sunday to hear the reading of Ms. Bhutto's will, decide on her successor, and announce whether or not it will participate in the upcoming elections.

PPP spokeswoman and a close aide of Ms. Bhutto, Sherry Rehman, says the party's main concern now is how to carry on Ms. Bhutto's legacy.

"The first task in front of us before anything else is to stay united and to stay focused on our task of keeping this very large major party and the legacy of Benazir Bhutto alive - her vision, her project, her mission - should not disintegrate open her tragic death," Rehman said.

Ms. Bhutto's 19-year-old son Bilawal Zardari, a student at Britain's Oxford University, will read out Ms. Bhutto's will. Her husband, Asif Zardari, says she has left instructions about the PPP's future.

Speculation is rife Ms. Bhutto will name her son as her successor. Ishtaq Ahmed, a political analyst from Islamabad's Qaud -e- Azam University says it would be seen as a way to continue the Bhutto dynasty.

"This is a dynasty," he said. "And if you look at Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan - we call this dynasty trend. It may however look undemocratic for other countries, especially in the West, but this is what we have got. So, dynasty has to be there. You can't expect that there is any other person from the party that will become the leader. There has to be someone from the family."

Ahmed says Ms. Bhutto's son would be a figurehead for now and his father would likely wield power behind the scenes. Party officials say if Ms. Bhutto's son is chosen as her successor, they will probably set up an advisory council of senior party members until he finishes university.

Also on the agenda at this historic PPP meeting is whether or not the party will participate in January 8 elections. Pakistan's other main opposition leader, Narwaz Sharif, has already announced plans to boycott the elections.

If the PPP pulls out, it could destroy the credibility of the elections, which Washington has urged the government to hold, despite the current political crisis.

The government says it will meet Monday to decide whether or not the election should be postponed to a later date.

Meanwhile, violence continues across the nation. Two suicide bombers died early Sunday after they prematurely detonated bombs near the house of a leading Pakistan politician in eastern Pakistan.

There is also a growing dispute between the government and Ms. Bhutto's supporters over whether a gunshot or a bomb blast caused her death. The government blames al-Qaida for Ms. Bhutto's death, a charge the terrorist group denies, and Ms. Bhutto's supporter's say the government is covering up the cause of her death.