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Pakistan Supreme Court Hears Challenges to Musharraf Re-Election Bid


Pakistan's Supreme Court has begun hearing challenges to President Pervez Musharraf's plan to seek re-election next month.

Opposition groups are challenging the legality of General Musharraf's plan to run for another five-year term as president while remaining army chief of staff. The leader of a coalition of religious and political parties petitioning the court (Qazi Hussain Ahmed) says they are waiting to see what the Supreme Court does with those who "wrangle with the Constitution".

The general took power in a bloodless 1999 coup. His re-election nomination papers are due by October 15th. His current terms ends November 15th.

A senior ruling party official told the Reuters news agency Monday that President Musharraf plans to quit as army chief after his re-election. The official (Mushahid Hussain Sayed) said that if re-elected, President Musharraf would take his oath of office as a civilian leader only.

The president plans to seek another term from the current parliament prior to a general election expected to be held around the end of the year.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Monday accused General Musharraf's allies of pushing the country toward a dangerous crisis by refusing to restore democracy and share power.

An aide to Ms. Bhutto has said she will return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile on October 18th. Ms. Bhutto has lived in Dubai and London since 1999.

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