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Pakistan's Era of Dictatorship is Over, says Suspended Chief Justice Chaudhry

  • VOA News

Pakistan's suspended chief justice says the country's era of dictatorship is over.

Speaking to thousands of supporters in Lahore on Sunday, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry said nations that do not believe in the supremacy of the constitution, rule of law and human rights cannot survive.

President Pervez Musharraf suspended Chaudhry in March for alleged abuse of power. The judge is appealing his removal, which he says is unconstitutional. A judicial panel is reviewing the case.

Since his suspension, Chaudhry's supporters have held massive protests against the president. Sunday's rally in Lahore is by far the largest in several weeks.

Tens of thousands of people showered Chaudhry's car with rose petals as he arrived in the city. Others chanted "Go Musharraf go" to express their displeasure with the military leader who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

Lahore is considered the country's unofficial political capital, and is Mr. Musharraf's main political base. Experts warn that if he loses backing there, he could be in serious trouble in this year's national elections.

Critics accuse Mr. Musharraf of firing Chaudhry to silence the country's independent judiciary ahead of a possible constitutional challenge to the president's re-election later this year.

Chaudhry took over as chief justice in 2005 and has ruled against the Musharraf government in several high-profile cases.

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