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Pakistan Ruling Party to Seek Impeachment of Musharraf

BY Admin  August 7, 2008 at 10:10 AM EDT

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf

Party leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif announced the move at a news conference in Islamabad. The decision came after several days of talks.

“We have good news for democracy,” said Zardari, head of the Pakistan Peoples Party, quoted the BBC. “The coalition believes it is imperative to move for impeachment against General Musharraf.”

The policies Musharraf has pursued during his eight years in power “have brought Pakistan to a critical economical impasse,” he said.

“The incompetence and the failure of his policies has thrown the country into the worst power shortage in its history. His policies have weakened the federation and eroded the trust of the nation in national institutions,” Zardari added.

Musharraf came into power in a bloodless coup in 1999 but was sidelined when Zardari and Sharif’s parties formed a coalition after winning the majority of seats in Parliament in February elections.

Before an impeachment vote, Musharraf must go through votes of confidence in the national and four provincial assemblies, according to the BBC.

Impeaching a president requires a two-thirds majority support of lawmakers in both houses of Parliament. Musharraf loyalists maintain that the coalition would struggle to muster that many votes, but Zardari expressed confidence they would succeed.

“We hope that 90 percent of the lawmakers will support us,” Zardari said.

Tariq Azeem, a spokesman for the main pro-Musharraf opposition party, said it would oppose impeachment.

“We have backed him and voted for him so we are duty bound to support him,” Azeem said.

Azeem said he did not think the ruling coalition had the numbers in Parliament to impeach Musharraf, but conceded “things could go either way.”

A party spokesman told CNN that the National Assembly will meet Monday to consider the vote of confidence and possible impeachment proceedings.

Musharraf could instead move to dissolve Parliament and dismiss the prime minister.

Soon after news broke of the coalition’s intentions, the Foreign Office announced that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would represent Pakistan at the Olympics’ opening ceremonies in China, rather than Musharraf as originally planned, reported the Associated Press.

Musharraf won his current five-year term in October in a controversial vote by outgoing Parliament members. At the time, the ruling coalition was the minority and boycotted the vote.

Since winning a majority, the ruling coalition has been considering Musharraf’s ouster and demanding the restoration of judges that Musharraf sacked last year.