ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup and declared himself president, promised Tuesday to hold provincial and federal elections -- the final stop on his "roadmap to democracy."
Musharraf used Pakistan's Independence Day to announce that nationwide polls will be held Oct. 1-11, 2002. There was no indication in his speech that he intended to give up his leadership position.
Musharraf promised to reform the election commission, prepare accurate election rolls and make constitutional changes that will "introduce checks and balances" into the system.
Political analysts anticipate changes will be made to the constitution that would strengthen the position of president and pave the way for a new political system run by civilians, but supervised by the army.
The Supreme Court last year ordered general elections by October 2002, but also gave Musharraf unrestricted authority to change the constitution.
In his televised speech to local councils, which were recently created in the first phase of his blueprint for democracy, Musharraf said that the "the setting up of local bodies was not the last step toward real democracy in this country."
Rather, he said it was the beginning.
It will change the fabric of Pakistani society because it includes representation from previously disenfranchised groups, like women, the poor and peasant farmers, he said.
"We are taking the government to the people," said Musharraf.
He promised to give Pakistan a democratic rule that will last.
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