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Pakistan Delays Elections Until Mid-February

Election officials in Pakistan announced on Wednesday the postponement of parliamentary elections until Feb. 18 following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, which triggered days of rioting.

The elections had been scheduled for Jan. 8, but Qazi Mohammed Farooq, head of the Election Commission, said it would be impossible to hold elections that day.

Election officials reported that rioters in Bhutto's home province of Sindh burned down 10 election offices, destroying the voter rolls and ballot boxes inside. The violence also halted the printing and distribution of ballots.

Because of the situation following Bhutto's death, "for a few days the election process came to a complete halt," Farooq said.

The opposition had demanded the polls take place on time; some leaders had called for street protests if they were delayed.

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