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Former Pakistan PM Bhutto Optimistic About Power-Sharing Deal

  • VOA News

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto says she is optimistic that a power-sharing deal can be reached with President Pervez Musharraf.

Speaking in London on Thursday, Ms. Bhutto said negotiations are continuing, but that a final agreement has not been made. She also said that if a deal is reached with General Musharraf, her party will not join other opposition groups in resigning from parliament.

Ms. Bhutto said she expects to receive an ordinance on Thursday that would grant amnesty to her and other politicians charged with corruption.

The amnesty has been one of several demands of Ms. Bhutto, who went into self-imposed exile eight years ago to escape prosecution. She also is pushing for reforms that would allow her to serve as prime minister for a third time.

Earlier on Thursday, General Musharraf's government also expressed optimism about a deal with Ms. Bhutto. Gaining the support of her Pakistan's Peoples Party would lend credibility to General Musharraf's expected victory in Saturday's presidential ballot.

Pakistan's president is chosen by the federal parliament and provincial assemblies -- not by a direct vote.

General Musharraf's supporters have a majority in the parliament.

In related news, Pakistan's Supreme Court has resumed hearing last-minute petitions challenging President Musharraf's re-election bid. His opponents argue he cannot seek another five-year term while remaining in the dual post as army chief.

General Musharraf has vowed to relinquish that position if he is re-elected. He already has nominated a former top intelligence chief to replace him as head of the army when he steps down.
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