NAUDERO, Pakistan – Three days after the violent killing of its leader, Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s largest political party on Sunday picked her 19-year-old son to succeed her as chairman and vowed to forge ahead with elections next week, immediately creating a new quandary for the government about whether to delay the vote.
The moves by Bhutto’s opposition party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, were clearly aimed at marshaling an outpouring of grief and anger to electoral advantage in the Jan. 8 parliamentary election. The other main opposition party, led by Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister, also decided Sunday to call off his previously announced boycott of the vote.
Aides to President Pervez Musharraf have suggested the election could be postponed, perhaps for months, because of the chaos that has engulfed the country because Bhutto, the former prime minister returned from exile, was killed while campaigning Thursday. Now the prospect of a delay could further infuriate hutto’s supporters and allies, pressuring Musharraf to hold the vote and risk a huge defeat at the polls.
Elections officials in Pakistan said Monday they would take another day to decide on the timing of the polls, according to The Associated Press.
The announcement that Bhutto’s first-born son, Bilawal, an Oxford undergraduate with no political experience, would lead her party was made at a chaotic news conference at the family’s ancestral home here in a southern Pakistan village.
His father, Asif Ali Zardari, said he would manage the chairmanship on his son’s behalf until he finished his university degree, for a minimum of three years.