The e widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, has won elections to become Pakistan's next president.
Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, (PPP) today (Saturday) won the majority of votes in Pakistan's parliament and four provincial assemblies. He soundly defeated his two opponents (,Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui and Mushahid Hussain,) winning an estimated 482 of 702 lawmaker votes.
Zardari replaces former President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month -- while facing impTheachment.
After the vote, lawmakers in parliament chanted "long live Bhutto" and
Zardari's two daughters held a portrait of their mother. PPP officials
called Zardari's win, a victory for democracy in the country.
In a brief speech, Zardari addressed critics, saying "to those who
would say that the People's Party or the presidency would be
controversial under our guardianship... listen to our democracy."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today said she looked forward
to working with Zardari and that she is impressed by what she says is
his emphasis on fighting terrorism.
Zardari faces a number of challenges as Pakistan's new president,
including battling rising militant violence and improving the country's
The new president has pledged to better control the powers of the
presidency and restore the Supreme Court judges purged by Mr.
Musharraf. Pakistani officials say three of those judges returned to
the bench Friday, after taking the oath of office.
Last week, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit the coalition
government and became an opposition leader due to differences with
Zardari over the restoration of the judiciary. Today, Mr. Sharif said
he hoped Zardari would return the presidency to its impartial role.
Mr. Sharif wanted immediate reinstatement of judges, without
conditions. Zardari has said he wants the re-instatement to come with
certain judicial reforms.
The new president served 11 years in prison on corruption and murder charges, but was never convicted.