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September 29, 2007
Pakistani Court OK's Musharraf's Re-election Bid
The Pakistani Supreme Court has ruled that President Pervez Musharraf can run for re-election despite a constititional ban on an active duty military officer running for President:
The decision is a clear victory for the embattled General Musharraf and a stinging blow to the lawyers’ movement and political parties that have opposed his continued rule. Some observers believe that the Court - 10 out of 13 judges appointed by Musharraf - didn't want another confrontation with the General. Last summer's violent demonstrations against the President's decision to sack the Chief Judge of the court roiled the country for weeks causing Musharraf to back down and reinstate the jurist.
They had brought two challenges to General Musharraf’s eligibility, on the grounds that it was unconstitutional for him to be both president and army chief, and for him to run for election while still in uniform. But the bench of nine judges dismissed the two cases by a vote of 6 to 3 on a technicality.
The cases were “not maintainable,” said the senior presiding judge, Justice Rana Baghwandas, citing an article of the Constitution that specified cases that should be heard by the provincial high court rather than by the Supreme Court.
Whether the General was playing to a stacked court or not, the ruling clears the way for an orderly transition to civilian rule when former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto returns from exile to head up a government with Musharraf as a civilian president once he resigns from the army following his re-election.