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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 16:57 UK

Musharraf impeachment discussed

Photo of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf seen partially torn down on outskirts of Islamabad
President Musharraf hopes to see out his term

Pakistan's governing coalition leaders have been meeting to finalise a plan to impeach President Pervez Musharraf.

They accuse him of misconduct and of violating the constitution, and have urged him to resign.

A presidential spokesman said he would not do so. Mr Musharraf has been meeting advisers to plot his next move.

Pakistan's National Assembly is convening on Monday. Observers say it could be several days before it hears the charges against Mr Musharraf.

The provincial assembly in Punjab also passed a resolution on Monday demanding the president's resignation.

'False'

Leaders of the two largest parties in government met over the weekend to put the finishing touches to what those charges will be.

"The work of the impeachment committee is almost complete. It is giving finishing touches to the charge sheet," said Farzana Raja of the main party in government, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

"We gave him [Mr Musharraf] a chance to resign, we gave him a few months. But we have now come to the conclusion that now the people of Pakistan, through their elected representatives in the parliament, will have to do that."

STEPS TO IMPEACHMENT
Impeachment proposers need 50% majority in Senate or National Assembly
President given notice of impeachment, and has three days to respond
Joint session of Senate and Assembly must be held between 7 and 14 days later to investigate charges
If resolution presented, joint session must approve with two-thirds majority

One official said that the list of violations of the constitution and examples of the president's misconduct would extend to more than 100 pages.

Presidential spokesman Rashid Qureshi said there was no reason for Mr Musharraf to resign.

"Everything they are saying is false, so why should he resign?" he told the AFP news agency.

The charges are not likely to be presented to parliament until after independence celebrations on Thursday.

Before then the government is getting the four provincial assemblies to hold their own votes - which will ask the president to seek a vote of confidence.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Islamabad says this will not have any direct bearing on the impeachment process - but will encourage more politicians to call for the president's resignation.

The government insists that it has enough votes to impeach him, but party leaders say he should resign now to avoid humiliation.

Mr Musharraf's supporters say they can muster enough votes to prevent his opponents from gaining a two-thirds majority required in both houses of parliament.

Our correspondent says Mr Musharraf has three options ahead of him

  • he could contest the impeachment in parliament, which is what his supporters there are urging him to do,
  • he could resign,
  • or he could take a huge risk, dismiss the government and dissolve parliament.

To do that would need the backing of the army, but there has been no indication yet of where Pakistan's most powerful institution stands, our correspondent says.



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