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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Pakistan rulers claim poll boost
Voters in Quetta
The elections have been held on a non-party basis
Most candidates supported by Pakistan's ruling coalition have won in local elections, governing politicians say.

Thousands of councillors voted on Thursday to choose local government heads in 108 districts. Full results have yet to be announced.

The elections have been held on a non-party basis but parties have been manoeuvring to boost their bases before the 2007 general elections.

Opposition parties have denounced the election as rigged.

'Moderate candidates'

"What we are seeing is that enlightened, progressive and moderate candidates are winning," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said.

Reports say the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) won in most of the districts in Punjab and interior Sindh while its ally, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) won in Karachi and Hyderabad.

The opposition Islamist alliance, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), suffered major setbacks in Balochistan and the North-West Frontier Province, reports say.

Munawar Hussain, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, the most influential religious party in the MMA, said: "How could the ruling alliance lose some seats when there was such massive rigging? It should have been a clean sweep... It is just one-man rule in the country."

Municipal elections are held every four years in Pakistan to choose councillors and mayors.

Political parties are not allowed to contest the elections but most candidates have some backing.

At least 25 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the first two rounds of elections in August.

Thursday's third and final round passed relatively peacefully.


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