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Page last updated at 16:26 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 17:26 UK

Move to slash Musharraf's powers

President Pervez Musharraf (image from 25 March)
Gen Musharraf has been gradually handing back power

The leader of the main party in Pakistan's ruling coalition has proposed amending the constitution to reduce the powers of the president.

Asif Ali Zardari, head of the Pakistan People's Party, said the changes would remove President Pervez Musharraf's right to dismiss the government.

The powers to appoint armed forces chiefs and provincial governors would be transferred to the prime minister.

The proposals also aim to restore senior judges sacked by Gen Musharraf.

The president, who has been in power since leading a military coup in 1999, began a process of returning to democratic rule last year.

'Walk him away'

Correspondents say that the draft amendments are expected to be tabled in parliament once the coalition's supporters, including the Pakistan Muslim League headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, give their approval.

Mr Sharif withdrew his party from the coalition two weeks ago over its failure to reinstate judges. The party continues to support the coalition while not being a member.

Mr Zardari, who succeeded his wife Benazir Bhutto as party leader after her assassination in December, told reporters in Islamabad he aimed to "walk [Gen Musharraf] away rather than impeach him away".

His party, he added, had "never accepted Gen Musharraf as a constitutional president".

However, he said the party had kept up a working relationship and would consult him over the constitutional package.


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