EU to observe Pakistani elections

April 4, 2013 at 12:27 PM

BRUSSELS, April 4 (UPI) -- The deployment of a EU mission to observe general elections in Pakistan should enhance voter confidence, the EU foreign policy chief said.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton nominated parliamentarian Michael Gahler to head a mission to observe May 11 elections. He served as the chief of mission during 2008 elections in Pakistan.

Gahler is to arrive Sunday in Islamabad to oversee a preliminary team of 11 election analysts. The mission will eventually include more than 90 observers from EU members.

"I hope that all those involved will engage in the process in a peaceful and democratic way," Ashton said in a statement. "I am confident that, under the leadership of MEP Michael Gahler, this election observer mission will enhance the confidence of Pakistani voters in the process."

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile to run in parliamentary elections. He faces three charges in connection to the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was campaigning against him at the time.

Musharraf is running against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom he toppled in a 1999 coup.

Ashton said her team would stay in the country past Election Day to vet complaints and prepare its recommendations.

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