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Pakistan's president summons election commission head on date for next vote

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's presidency is recognized as world's first presidential secretariat running on clean energy, in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's president on Wednesday summoned the head of its election commission to discuss fixing the date of the next election within the 90-day constitutional deadline ending in early November, a letter from his office said.

The opposition party led by jailed former premier Imran Khan has accused outgoing prime minister Shehbaz Sharif's coalition of dragging its heels in scheduling a new election because Khan's popularity was growing.

Sharif's government denied this, citing a constitutional requirement to hold elections under the latest census.

Khan is under arrest over a conviction on charges stemming from the sale of state gifts, though he denies wrongdoing.

Election commission officials have said it will take at least until December to draw up new constituencies based on the latest census.

"The Chief Election Commissioner is invited for a meeting with the President today or tomorrow to fix an appropriate date," said the letter from President Arif Alvi, which included wording of the constitutional article on the 90-day deadline.

Electoral experts have suggested that adjusting constituencies based on the latest census could see the nationwide vote pushed back several months, possibly until February.

A caretaker government led by Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar was sworn in last week.

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield; editing by Mark Heinrich)