Pakistan's military government today postponed by a week the opening session of the newly elected parliament.
The session had been scheduled for Friday. The government of President Pervez Musharraf said the delay was in response to requests by some political parties and for logistical reasons, the state-run news agency reported.
Opposition leaders, however, said the delay was intended to give a pro-Musharraf party a better chance to form a coalition government. No party won a majority in the Oct. 10 elections.
Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for the main opposition group, the Pakistan People's Party, said the postponement was meant "to bolster the chances of the king's party," an indirect reference to the Quaid-e-Azam faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, which backs Musharraf.
The pro-Musharraf party dominates parliament with 103 of 342 seats. The Pakistan People's Party of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has 80 seats, followed by the United Action Forum, a grouping of Islamic parties, with 59. Smaller parties and independents control the remaining 100 seats.
The Islamic alliance said it has reached an agreement with pro-democracy parties to form a majority coalition, and they have put forward a hard-line Islamic cleric as their choice for prime minister.
The decision to delay the session followed a request by the pro-Musharraf party, and came after a cabinet meeting chaired by the president.