In Pakistan, voters have been streaming to the polls for the country's first local elections since the imposition of military rule more than two years ago.
In Pakistan, voters have been streaming to the polls for the country's first local elections since the imposition of military rule more than two years ago. But the elections have been marred by the killing of nine people in clashes between rival candidates. Police have arrested more than eighty people.
SYNOPSIS: In Rawalpindi, there was a large turnout on Tuesday (25 September) as voters lined the streets to cast their votes. The elections are to choose district and municipal councils. They were organised by Pakistan's present military ruler, General Zia ul Haq, who came to power in a coup which deposed then Prime Minister Zulfikar ali Bhutto. Mr Bhutto was executed in April this year.
The turnout was substantial, particularly among women. Many said they regarded the election as an attempt to improve local services and amenities. The role of the new councils is still unclear. But General Zia says they may be given the power to collect religious taxes and distribute funds for local development. General Zia regards the elections as the first step towards establishing civilian rule in pakistan -- and general elections are scheduled for November the seventeenth.
Voting in Rawalpindi was peaceful. But in Pakistan's densely populated provinces of Sind and Punjab there were clashes between supporters of rival candidates. Among the nine dead was a policeman, who was clubbed to death while attempting to break up a scuffle.
Pakistan's more than one hundred political parties are officially banned from contesting the local elections. But voters say many so-called 'independent' candidates have strong political affiliations.