Pakistan 'anti-corruption' cleric to boycott elections
ISLAMABAD (AFP) - A populist Pakistani cleric who has generated mass protests to demand sweeping political reform will boycott the forthcoming general elections, he told AFP.
The polls, expected by mid-May but for which no date has yet been set, will mark the first democratic transition between two civilian governments in Pakistan, where the military remains powerful after staging three coups.
"This is just an election of money, might and manipulation. That is why I decided my party should not take part," said Tahir-ul Qadri, a religious moderate who has written a fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombings, on Monday.
He founded a small political party in the 1980s, but took until 2002 to get elected to parliament under military dictator Pervez Musharraf, only to resign two years later allegedly fed up with the system. He then left for Canada.