Pakistan’s president has named the man who will succeed him as head of the army but the move came too late to stop the resignation of 85 opposition MPs in protest at Saturday’s election.
They are furious that General Pervez Musharraf will stand for re-election while still in uniform.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, from the ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party said: “We honestly feel that if there was a rule of law in this country, if there was democracy in this country, then this assembly, which is due to complete its tenure within a month, would not be electing a new president.”
The boycott will not affect the outcome of the poll as Musharraf has a comfortable majority in parliament, despite a slump in his popularity. He has vowed to step down as army chief, once re-elected.
Meanwhile, Musharraf’s government has dropped corruption charges against another former prime minister, and possible ally, Benazir Bhutto.
It is likely to convince her assembly members to at least take part in Saturday’s vote, something she and party colleagues were due to discuss on Wednesday.