— ‘s newly elected National Assembly met for the first time Monday and delivered an immediate rebuff to , setting up a head-on clash between the elected assembly and the unpopular U.S.-backed president.
With the incoming government committed to restoring the judges who were fired by Musharraf and stripping the powers of the presidency, a battle seems inevitable in which Washington may find itself on the losing side. Critics said Musharraf is unwilling to retreat to the figurehead role prescribed for the president in Pakistan’s original constitution.
“The conspiracies of the (presidential) palace will be fought with the strength of parliament,” said Ahmed Mukhtar , a possible candidate for the post of prime minister from the, just before the assembly met. “We have the numbers to do whatever we want.”
The People’s Party , which won the most seats in the Feb. 18 election, plans to form a government in the next few days with its traditional rival,‘s , in a grand anti-Musharraf alliance. Together, along with two smaller parties, the new government would control two-thirds of the National Assembly. According to Mukhtar, the coalition also will soon control two-thirds of the Senate , due to the defection of Musharraf backers, which would mean that it could impeach Musharraf.