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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Kashmir leaders given new deadline
Qazi Mohammad Afzal, left, celebrates his victory with supporters
People's Democratic Party members want their own chief minister

The governor of Indian-administered Kashmir has given the three major political parties until 5 pm on Monday to stake a claim to form the next government.

A communication issued by the governor's office says the leader of any of the three parties, claiming to form the government, must produce letters of support from the parties or individual legislators supporting backing him for chief minister.

These main parties are the National Conference, the Congress and the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

According to the constitution, the new government should have been in place by 17 October, or the region would have come under direct rule from Delhi.

However, the latest extension to the deadline will provide more time for political leaders to negotiate the alliances that will be needed to form a government.

The communication from the governor's office says the claimant will have to convince him that he has the requisite support to form a stable government or otherwise to win a vote of confidence in the assembly.

More time

Earlier, the Congress party's chief ministerial candidate, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had requested more time from the governor, as his efforts to forge an alliance with the PDP were still continuing.

National Conference Party leader Omer Abdullah
Abdullah's National Conference still sees itself as a major contender
The Communist Party Marxist leader, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, also made a similar plea to the governor.

Mr Azad had a meeting with the PDP leader, Mufti Mohammad Sayed, at the latter's residence in Srinagar on Wednesday morning.

But a spokesman for the PDP indicated that the Mufti had refused to give up his demand that the next chief minister should be from his party.

The Tarigami-led alliance of People's Democratic Forum and CPI-M, which has eight members in the new assembly, has indicated that it will support Mr Azad's claim to be chief minister.

However, this has not been confirmed officially.

Last week's election threw out the National Conference, which had held power for 50 years.

No party emerged with a clear majority .

Whoever forms the new administration will need the support of smaller parties and independents who hold 20 seats.

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11 Oct 02 | South Asia
11 Oct 02 | South Asia
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