Musharraf invites monitors for election

Dec. 15, 2007 at 11:59 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf promised fair elections Saturday, saying foreign groups would be invited to observe the voting.

Musharraf, in a speech broadcast around the country, defended the state of emergency a few hours after he ended it, saying it was needed to keep Pakistan stable, the Press Trust of India reported.

Parliamentary elections will go forward Jan. 8, Musharraf said, promising the elections will be "free, fair and transparent."

"I would like to invite any number of observers to see the fairness," he said.

Critics say Musharraf, while the emergency was in effect, used executive fiat to change the constitution in ways that reduce the independence of the judiciary and the news media. Human Rights Watch attacked the president for amending the Army Act to give the military the power to try civilians charged with a range of offenses in secret tribunals.

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