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India to Install Elected Government in Kashmir Soon - 2002-10-19


Indian officials expressing hope that an elected government can be installed in Indian-administered Kashmir, as early as possible. The federal government assumed direct control over the state administration in the troubled region, after elected parties failed to form a coalition government.

Kashmir's Governor, Girish Saxena, says he wants federal rule in the state to be as brief as possible.

He said a Monday deadline for forming a new administration in the state will be extended indefinitely, but expressed hope that political parties which won recent state elections will come together soon to form a government. Mr. Saxena spoke to reporters a day after he took charge of the state.

"I am very much hoping that they [political parties] will spare no effort to see that the verdict and mandate is respected, wishes of the people are honored and they get an elected government of their choice at the earliest," he said.

The elections to choose a state assembly ended earlier this month, but failed to produce a clear winner. India's main opposition Congress party and a regional party were widely expected to form a coalition government. But both parties want to lead the government and have so far not been able to resolve their differences over who should hold the Chief Minister's post.

The former ruling National Conference party, which dominated politics in the state for the past five decades, lost is majority in the recent elections. Political analysts say the poor showing of the party, which has been widely accused of bad governance, reflected a deep desire among Kashmiris for a new leadership.

Meanwhile, Kashmir governor, Mr. Saxena, says violence continues in Kashmir despite the end of the state elections when Muslim militants had stepped-up attacks.

"The threat continues, infiltration continues, even as I speak there are encounters going on," the governor said.

Kashmir has been in the grip of a violent Muslim separatist insurgency since 1989. India hopes the recent elections, in which about 46 percent people cast votes, will dampen support for the rebellion.