Pakistan's Musharraf to be sworn in for new term(video)

Other News Materials 29 November 2007 10:43 (UTC +04:00)

( Reuters ) - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is set to be sworn in for second term on Thursday, but this time as civilian leader a day after quitting as army chief and fulfilling a promise many Pakistanis doubted he would keep.

Musharraf won re-election in a vote by legislators last month and later suspended the constitution, declared emergency rule and purged the Supreme Court to block opposition legal challenges to his victory while still a serving officer.

The opposition is still challenging his re-election.

"The oath he is taking has no legitimacy, no legal basis," former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the man Musharraf ousted in a 1999 coup, told reporters late on Wednesday.

"The actions taken on November 3 are unacceptable to us. We condemn them and want them to be rolled back," Sharif said, referring to Musharraf's declaration of emergency.

The judges removed under emergency powers, who were seen as hostile to Musharraf, had to be restored, said Sharif, who was allowed back from seven years of exile on Sunday.

Sharif and another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, are considering boycotting a January 8 general election that they say will not be free and fair under emergency powers, although analysts expect them to take part.

Musharraf is due to address the nation later on Thursday and he could use the occasion to end the emergency.

Musharraf's power and influence in the nuclear-armed country, that is vital to the U.S. campaign against al Qaeda and its strategy in neighboring Afghanistan, are bound to be diminished after relinquishing command of the army.

He passed command to his hand-picked successor, General Ashfaq Kayani, who is seen as loyal to Musharraf.

How long Musharraf will be president will depend on the parliament that emerges from elections, particularly as Bhutto and Sharif have been allowed back from exile.

Musharraf will need support in what analysts expect to be a hung parliament. He could face impeachment over maneuvers to stay in power which rivals say violated the constitution.

Ordinary Pakistanis welcomed Musharraf's departure from the army and some say it is time he left politics altogether.

"It's not a good thing for Musharraf to remain in office. He thinks everything is about him, that no one can interfere, that he is the king," said Hafiz Wahab Siddiqui, 20-year-old business administration student in Lahore.

"He follows American rule. He is a servant of America."

Pakistani stock investors, keen to see a continuation of Musharraf's liberal policies that have promoted growth, welcomed his resignation from the army as a step towards stability.

U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday urged Musharraf to end emergency rule before holding elections early next year and welcomed his decision to quit as army chief.