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Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Saturday, 23 August 2008 17:38 UK

Bhutto widower to seek presidency

Asif Zardari
Zardari took over the PPP leadership after his wife was assassinated

Benazir Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, has agreed to run for the presidency of Pakistan, says his Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

The announcement was made by a party official, a day after Mr Zardari's nomination by the PPP, the biggest party in the coalition government.

Parliament will vote next month to choose a successor to President Pervez Musharraf, who resigned on Monday.

Mr Zardari became PPP leader after Ms Bhutto was assassinated in December.

He had spent years in exile following corruption charges,

The parliamentary and provincial assembly elections to replace Mr Musharraf, who quit in the face of the threat of impeachment by his political enemies, will take place on 6 September.

There will be plenty of political horse-trading, but Mr Zardari is clearly the favourite to win, says the BBC's Chris Morris in Islamabad.

Pakistani security officials examine the site of the suicide bombing in Wah

But his decision to accept the nomination is not without controversy and could lead to the collapse of the PPP's coalition, our correspondent adds.

Mr Zardari's main coalition partner, Nawaz Sharif of the PML-N, has said he is not in favour of Ms Bhutto's widower getting the job and prefers what he calls a consensus president.

The two men are also deadlocked over how many of the judges sacked by Mr Musharraf during emergency rule last November should be reinstated.

Mr Zardari is worried the deposed chief justice might seek to overturn an amnesty on corruption charges, which allowed Mr Zardari and Ms Bhutto to return to Pakistan, our correspondent adds.

The latest political developments come against a backdrop of increasing violence.

Pakistani troops say they killed 35 militants in fighting in the Swat Valley, north-west of Islamabad, on Saturday, shortly after a suicide bomber killed eight policemen.





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