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Last Legal Hurdle Cleared for Pakistan's President; Opposition Leaders Consider Election Boycott

  • VOA News

Pakistan's Supreme Court has cleared a final legal hurdle for President Pervez Musharraf, clearing the way for him to rule as a civilian president.

The president's hand-picked Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the sixth legal challenge to his re-election.

Pakistan's attorney general Malik Qayyum says the court's decision allows the election commission to certify his victory, and President Musharraf could step down as head of the military as early as Saturday.

Opposition leaders continue to protest President's Musharraf's November third imposition of emergency rule. Former cricket star and opposition leader Imran Khan today became the first to announce a boycott of the upcoming January eighth parliamentary elections.

Khan, who was released from prison on Wednesday, says political parties should not participate in "fraudulent" elections that would legitimize emergency rule.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her Pakistan People's Party say they are waiting to see whether President Musharraf steps down as military leader and restores democratic rule -- before deciding on a boycott of the election.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today said President Musharraf assured him in a phone call Wednesday that he will do his utmost to lift emergency rule in time for free and fair elections. Mr. Brown said General Musharraf also vowed to give up his position as military chief.

The comments come as Pakistan's government appeals to the Commonwealth to not follow through on a threat to suspend the country from the 53-member bloc.

Commonwealth foreign ministers are expected to vote on the suspension today. The organization had called for Pakistani officials to lift emergency rule by today.

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