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Bush Says Pakistan Vote Is Victory for People


President Bush says Monday's general elections in Pakistan were fair and that he hopes the new government there will continue an anti-terrorism alliance with the United States. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says he will not step down, despite big opposition wins.

President Bush says voters have spoken in a fair election that is a victory for the Pakistani people. He says he appreciates that President Musharraf did what he promised to do by holding this vote after declaring emergency rule, last year.

"He said he was going to hold elections. He said he would get rid of his emergency law. And, so it is now time for the newly-elected folks to show up and form their government," the president said. "And, the question then is: will they be friends of the United States? I certainly hope so. We view Pakistan as an important ally."

Speaking to reporters in Ghana, during a five-nation tour of Africa, Mr. Bush said the United States and Pakistan share a common interest in bringing to justice those who killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December.

"We've got interests in helping making sure there is no safe haven from which people can plot and plan attacks against the United States of America and Pakistan," he said. "So that's my take on the elections."

Opposition parties took far more seats in parliament than President Musharraf's alliance, which conceded defeat even before the final tally was announced.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants President Musharraf to step down. The opposition leader is trying to hold the president to his statement last year that he would resign, if he lost popular support.

Mr. Musharraf told the Wall Street Journal that he has no plans to step down and must, instead, move forward in a way that will bring about a stable, democratic government in Pakistan.

U.S. senators John Kerry and Joe Biden were both in Pakistan to monitor the election and say the vote was credible. Biden now wants to triple non-military aid to $1.5 billion, because he says Pakistan has taken an important step on the road to democracy.