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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 18:48 GMT
Sharif not to fight election ban
By Jill McGivering
BBC News, Islamabad

Nawaz Sharif in front of riot police barricades outside chief justice's house in Islamabad, 6 Dec 2007
Nawaz Sharif argues that the courts are biased
The former Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has confirmed that he will not stand as a candidate in the country's elections in January.

Mr Sharif's nomination papers were earlier rejected, and he now says he will not appeal against that decision.

Mr Sharif made a dramatic return to Pakistan last month after years in exile, and quickly re-established himself on the political scene.

He is now one of President Musharraf's most outspoken critics.

Forced from office

Some analysts even saw him serving a third term as prime minister, after the next election.

But now he has abandoned his fight to stand as a candidate after his nomination papers were rejected on the grounds of his two previous convictions.

Both date back to the period after 1999 when he was forced from office by President Musharraf.

Pakistani opposition leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif
The parties of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif are in talks

Mr Sharif had until Friday to file an appeal against this rejection of his papers.

But that appeal would have been heard by the High Court, which Mr Sharif does not recognise as legitimate because its judges were recently forced to take an oath of allegiance to President Musharraf.

Mr Sharif did try to find a way round this. He wrote to the Election Commission, saying he was being prevented from standing for political reasons.

Series of demands

The commission, though, has refused to intervene. Mr Sharif's brother, Shahbaz, also had nomination papers rejected and he too says he will not appeal.

At the moment, Mr Sharif's political party is involved in lengthy negotiations with the party of another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

They are trying to agree on a series of demands to put to the caretaker government - a list of conditions that must be fulfilled before they agree to contest the election.

A main sticking point seems to be a difference of opinion about judges who refused to swear the new oath of allegiance to President Musharraf.

It is thought that Mr Sharif wants them to be re-instated straight away but Ms Bhutto says the issue can wait until after the election.



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