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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Kashmir chief minister quits
Kashmir opposition
Opposition celebrations after the election results
The chief minister in Indian-administered Kashmir has resigned after his party's shock defeat in state elections.

Farooq Abdullah said he formally handed in his resignation to the Jammu and Kashmir state governor, GC Saxena.


The new government is expected to be formed in a week's time

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad
"I have tendered my resignation, I want to take a rest. After that, I will decide what to do," said Mr Abdullah.

His National Conference party failed to win a majority when results for the state assembly elections were declared on Thursday.

The elections, which were overshadowed by violence, have been condemned by militant groups fighting Indian rule and by Pakistan, which disputes India's claim to Kashmir.

'Caretaker role'

It is not yet clear if Mr Abdullah will be asked to stay on in a caretaker role until a new administration is formed - or if the state governor will take control.

Farooq Abdullah
Farooq Abdullah: Dominated Kashmiri politics
Mr Abdullah's son, Omar, now leads the National Conference Party - but embarrassingly he failed to win a seat in the polls.

Farooq Abdullah's family have dominated the Kashmiri political landscape for the best part of the last 50 years.

His party supports union with India, but has pressed for greater autonomy for the state.

The focus of attention is now likely to shift to the leaders of the main opposition parties, Congress and the People's Democratic Party (PDP), who may join forces.

The leader of the Congress party in the state, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said he expected a new government to be formed in a week's time.

US comment

Both parties also support Kashmir remaining part of India, but may take a different approach towards the central government in Delhi and towards the militant insurgency, estimated to have cost some 60,000 lives in the past decade.

The elections have been welcomed by the United States.

A State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said the US hoped they would be "the first step in a broader process that will bring peace to the region."

The US has been urging both India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir dispute, which is the main cause of tension between the two nuclear-capable neighbours.

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