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Pakistani president completes term

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By The Associated Press
Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, 9:24 p.m.
 

ISLAMABAD — Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari stepped down on Sunday at the end of his five-year term, becoming the first democratically elected president in the country's history to complete his full term in office.

At a ceremony at the presidency shown live on state television, an honor guard bid farewell to a smiling Zardari. His successor, Mamnoon Hussain, is scheduled to be sworn in on Monday.

Zardari rose to power after the assassination of his wife, two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in a gun and bomb attack in December 2007.

Analysts count his government's completion of a full term in a hostile political environment to his credit, as well as his strong stance against Islamic militancy.

However, economic mismanagement and a failure to tackle the country's energy crisis hurt Zardari's popularity, they claim.

In an interview with local channel Geo TV to be aired on Monday, Zardari talked about “lost opportunities” and admitted that the economy could have been better managed. He said: “More work could have been done.”

Zardari said he took pride in the rewriting and amendments made to the country's constitution. Various Pakistani military dictators made changes over the years to the constitution to suit their whims.

Hussain, a textile businessman from the newly elected government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is set to replace Zardari as president. He is a longtime member of Sharif's PML-N and served as governor of Sindh for about four months in 1999. Otherwise, he has not been a prominent figure in national politics.

Despite the homey ease of his television interview, Zardari has been a contentious figure as president and has often battled with both the powerful army and the Supreme Court.

His other major accomplishments include transferring power in democratic elections in a country plagued by military coups. Pakistani army dictators ruled for most of the country's 66-year history.

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