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Last Updated: Monday, 17 September 2007, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Musharraf to 'quit as army chief'
Pervez Musharraf - 22/08/2007
There has been pressure on Gen Musharraf to resign his army post

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf plans to stand down as army chief by 15 November, an official from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) says.

Gen Musharraf will resign from the powerful post after the presidential elections, said Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the PML's secretary general.

He is seeking re-election by parliament before its term expires in mid-October.

Pakistan's Supreme Court meanwhile is debating his right to remain army chief if he stands for president again.

There has been no confirmation from Gen Musharraf himself about his intentions.

The country's largest political party, Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, has been holding negotiations about a possible power-sharing deal in which they have demanded that he step down from his military role.

Petitions

"We expect that after his re-election process next month, God willing, Gen Musharraf would take his oath of office as a civilian president before November 15," said Mr Sayed.

There has been growing opposition to Gen Musharraf's contention that he is constitutionally allowed to be both president and head of the army at the same time.

KEY DATES
23 Aug: Supreme Court says exiled ex-PM Nawaz Sharif can return
10 Sep: Mr Sharif arrested and deported to Saudi Arabia on his return to Pakistan
11 Sep: Lawyers for Mr Sharif challenge his deportation in the Supreme Court
15 Sep-15 Oct: Timeframe Gen Musharraf has set for his re-election as president by parliament
18 Oct: Date ex-PM Benazir Bhutto has set for her homecoming
15 November: Parliament expires and general election must be held

The Supreme Court is hearing six petitions seeking to disqualify Gen Musharraf as a presidential candidate.

The petitions have been filed by, among others, Pakistan's largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, former cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan and an association of lawyers.

The six petitions also oppose Gen Musharraf's plan to seek re-election by the outgoing parliament and provincial elections, saying there should be general elections first.

Gen Musharraf's apparent promise to step down as army chief is not the first time he has made the claim.

In 2002, he promised members of Pakistan's Islamic parties that he would resign as head of the army by 2004 in return for their support for a constitutional amendment legitimising his 1999 military takeover.

The opposition believed that that the verbal promise was also enshrined in the amendment, an issue disputed by Gen Musharraf's advisers.

But instead of keeping that promise, he succeeded in getting parliament to pass an act with a simple majority giving him a one-time exemption to stay on in office until November 2007.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto announced on Friday that she intends to return to Pakistan from exile on 18 October to contest parliamentary elections, which must be held by mid-January.

She was said to have been in negotiations with Gen Musharraf over a deal that would allow her a third term as prime minister in exchange for her support for his plan to be re-elected president.




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