Musharraf to be sworn in for new term
Pakistan, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is set to be sworn in
for second term on Thursday, but this time as civilian leader a day
after quitting as army chief and fulfilling a promise many Pakistanis
doubted he would keep.
Musharraf won re-election in a vote by legislators last month and
later suspended the constitution, declared emergency rule and purged the
Supreme Court to block opposition legal challenges to his victory while
still a serving officer.
The opposition is still challenging his re-election.
"The oath he is taking has no legitimacy, no legal basis," former
prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the man Musharraf ousted in a 1999 coup,
told reporters late on Wednesday.
"The actions taken on Nov. 3 are unacceptable to us. We condemn them
and want them to be rolled back," Sharif said, referring to Musharraf's
declaration of emergency.
The judges removed under emergency powers, who were seen as hostile
to Musharraf, had to be restored, said Sharif, who was allowed back from
seven years of exile on Sunday.
Sharif and another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, are
considering boycotting a Jan. 8 general election that they say will not
be free and fair under emergency powers, although analysts expect them
to take part.
Musharraf is due to address the nation later on Thursday and he could
use the occasion to end the emergency.
Musharraf's power and influence in the nuclear-armed country, that is
vital to the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda and its strategy in
neighbouring Afghanistan, are bound to be diminished after relinquishing
command of the army.
He passed command to his hand-picked successor, General Ashfaq Kayani,
who is seen as loyal to Musharraf.
How long Musharraf will be president will depend on the parliament
that emerges from elections, particularly as Bhutto and Sharif have been
allowed back from exile.
Musharraf will need support in what analysts expect to be a hung
parliament. He could face impeachment over manoeuvres to stay in power
which rivals say violated the constitution.
Ordinary Pakistanis welcomed Musharraf's departure from the army and
some say it is time he left politics altogether.
Islamabad, Thursday, Reuters