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Bhutto's son, husband to succeed her


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Bianca
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« on: December 30, 2007, 09:16:27 am »








                                            Bhutto's son, husband to succeed her





By ZARAR KHAN,
Associated Press Writer

 NAUDERO, Pakistan - Benazir Bhutto's 19-year old son was chosen Sunday to succeed her as chairman of her opposition party, while her husband will serve as co-chairman, extending Pakistan's most famous political dynasty to another generation.


 
 
The party also decided to contest upcoming elections, apparently ending the threat of a wholesale boycott by Pakistan's political opposition as the key U.S.-ally struggles to transition to full democracy after years of military rule.

The decision was made at a closed meeting of the Pakistan Peoples Party central executive committee, three days after the two-time prime minister was assassinated in a suicide attack.

It catapults Bilawal Zardari, an Oxford University student with no political experience, to the center of Pakistan's tumultuous public life.

"The party's long struggle for democracy will continue with renewed vigor," he said at a news conference. "My mother always said democracy is the best revenge."

Supporters chanted "Benazir, princess of heaven" and "Bilawal, move ahead. We are with you."

Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari, 51, is a party powerbroker who served as environment minister in her second government.

As co-chairman he is widely expected to have hands-on leaderhip of the party.

He immediately announced the group's participation in the vote, and appealed to the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to drop his plans to boycott the polls — planned for Jan. 8 but anticipated by many to be delayed following the assassination.

The government has blamed an al-Qaida-linked militant for the murder, but the party disputes that and has suggested that elements in the ruling party could have been behind the slaying.

Zardari appealed to the United Nations and British government to help investigate.





THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.



NAUDERO, Pakistan (AP) — Benazir Bhutto's 19-year-old son was chosen Sunday to succeed her as chairman of her opposition party, while her husband will serve as co-chairman, extending Pakistan's most famous political dynasty to a third generation, party officials said.

The party also decided to contest upcoming elections, apparently ending the threat of a wholesale boycott by Pakistan's political opposition as the key U.S.-ally struggles to transition to democracy after years of military rule.

The decisions were made at a closed meeting of the Pakistan Peoples Party central executive committee, three days after the two-time prime minister was assassinated in a suicide attack, two party officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.

It catapults Bilawal Zardari, an Oxford University student with no political experience, to the center of Pakistan's tumultuous public life. Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari, 51, is powerbroker in the party who served as environment minister in her second government.
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Bianca
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2007, 09:20:14 am »








                                  Bhutto's surprise will offers guidance to her party





By Saeed Shah,
McClatchy Newspapers
Sat Dec 29, 2007
 
NAUDERO, Pakistan — Benazir Bhutto left a last will and testament that maps out the future for her political party and who should lead it in her absence, her husband Asif Zardari disclosed on Saturday
 
The document will be presented to her Pakistan People's Party on Sunday. It's expected to include her preference for who should lead the party in her absence. Zardari himself would be a highly controversial contender. Their son Bilawal would win a huge amount of goodwill, but is still a teenager, and Zardari appeared to rule him out on Saturday.

"He's too young. He's 19 years old," Zardari said.

Zardari said he opened the letter himself only on Saturday. Its contents will be read to an emergency meeting of the party on Sunday by Bilawal, a student at Britain's prestigious Oxford University , where his mother also studied.

"She left a message for the party and she left a will," Zardari said, in between meeting mourners who came by the hundreds to Benazir Bhutto's family home here in the village of Naudero. "This [document] is about politics. What we should do and how we should go about things."

Asked whether he wanted to lead the party, he didn't dismiss it.

"Lets see.... It depends on the party and it depends on the will."

Longer term, it's widely predicted that Bilawal Bhutto will take over leadership of the party, Pakistan's most popular political machine, which has always been led by a Bhutto. Benazir's sister, her only surviving sibling, has never taken part in politics.

The People's Party is faced with a vacuum of leadership. There are no towering figures within the party. Many say that Ms. Bhutto did not allow others to gain much recognition, and she concentrated power and decision-making in her hands. The party must also decide whether to boycott the parliamentary elections, now set for January 8 .

These political decisions must be made amid continued grief and mourning. On Sunday, special prayers will mark the third day after her death, an important marker in the Muslim faith.

On Saturday Zardari met with mourners. He stood in the courtyard of the family home, where mats had been spread. He embraced each man in turn, as dozens lined up every few minutes. Then there would be a short break for prayers, and the mourners would start coming forward again. Women passed through but went to a different area.

Many men were in tears, some crying uncontrollably. Most looked like poor peasant farmers from the surrounding countryside, dressed in tatty and stained clothing. Also attending were some political figures.

Periodically, large groups of veiled women would enter the compound wailing and beating their heads.

Zardari kept his composure throughout.

A neighbor in the village, Dur Mohammed, who came to Benazir's house, said: "We feel this was not the body of Benazir Bhutto . This was the corpse of our future, our dreams."

The crowd's emotion reached a breaking point with the arrival of Nawaz Sharif , leader of another political party who had been a bitter rival of Benazir. The throng surrounded him and his entourage, chanting "Benazir is innocent" and "long live Bhutto".

Deep anger was evident.

"She repeatedly told the government that the security had to be beefed up. She was very much concerned for her life," said a cousin, Shahid Hussain Bhutto . "It was not a suicide attack. It was a planned, targeted, killing."

Iqbal Haider , a former attorney general of Pakistan , said the government was "trying to create confusion and hide the real killers".

"Where was the security? Why didn't they cover the vehicle? There was no security, no precautions. That is why we hold [President] Pervez Musharraf responsible."

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