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Musharraf resigns to avoid impeachment

Article published on the 2008-08-18 Latest update 2008-08-18 15:33 TU

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf
(Photo: Reuters)

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has resigned during a televised address to the nation. The embattled leader said he had decided to step down to avoid impeachment charges. The former army chief came under growing pressure from the governing coalition to quit before it launches the first impeachment proceedings in Pakistan's 61-year history.

"After viewing the situation and consulting legal advisers and
poltical allies, with their advice I have decided to resign," Musharraf said.

"I leave my future in the hands of people," he added.

Musharraf could have opted to fight the impeachment charges in parliament, or use his presidential powers to dissolve parliament, or to declare a state of emergency. 

Dissolution or emergency rule would have required the support of the powerful army, which Musharraf led until November last year, but the military has so far remained silent.

The coalition of parties which won the February election, led by the party of assasinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said Sunday it had drawn up impeachment charges against Musharraf and would lodge them in parliament this week.

Musharraf's popularity plummeted amid his attempts to fire Pakistan's chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

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 beaten at the February polls.