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Pakistan’s Musharraf decides to resign

Published by onlines on August 18, 2008

Denies that impeachment charges could stand

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced in a televised address to the nation Monday that he had decided to resign after nine years in power to avoid the threat of impeachment.

The former army chief, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, was under huge pressure from the governing coalition to step down before it launched the first impeachment proceedings in Pakistan’s 61-year history.

“After viewing the situation and consulting legal advisers and political allies, with their advice I have decided to resign,” a grim-faced Musharraf said, backed by Pakistani flags and a portrait of the country’s founder.

Musharraf made the shock announcement after denying that any of the impeachment charges against him could stand and launching into a lengthy defense of his time in power.

He said that there was now law and order in the country, that human rights and democracy had been improved and that Pakistan was now a crucial country internationally.

Musharraf’s popularity slumped last year amid his attempts to oust the country’s chief justice and then during a wave of Taliban suicide bombings that killed more than 1,000 people, including former premier Benazir Bhutto.

He imposed a state of emergency in November last year to force his re-election to another five-year term through the Supreme Court, but his political allies were trounced at the February polls.

The coalition of parties which won the February election, led by Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, finally overcame months of divisions and agreed to impeach Musharraf on August 7

The charges reportedly included violation of the constitution and gross misconduct.

Musharraf’s spokesman had repeatedly denied in recent days that he was about to quit, and it was not immediately clear what would happen next.

But a lack of apparent support from Pakistan’s army, which he left in November, apparently made other options — including dissolving parliament or even declaring another state of emergency — impossible.

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