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Bhutto's widower to run for president

Article published on the 2008-08-23 Latest update 2008-08-23 16:11 TU

Zardari speaks at a party leadership meeting 22 August(Photo: Reuters)

Zardari speaks at a party leadership meeting 22 August
(Photo: Reuters)

The widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari, says that he will stand for election as Pakistan's president on 6 September. Members of his People's Party (PPP) announced the decision late on Saturday, a day after the party's MPs unanimously called on him to do so on Friday.

"Mr Asif Zardari has accepted to contest the election for the office of president of Pakistan after the party unanimously drafted him to do so," PPP deputy secretary general Raza Rabbani told reporters.

Rabbani said that Zardari had been chosen partly as a tribute to his wife, who was killed in a suicide attack shortly after returning from self-imposed exile.

The decision followed negotiations with another former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Muslim League (PML-N), which had proposed a more neutral candidate. Sharif has said that he will back Zardari if he does away with the president's right to dissolve parliament, which was brought in by President Pervez Musharraf who resigned on Monday.

The PML-N is also demanding the reinstatement of 60 judges who were sacked by Musharraf. Sharif pushed a deadline for their reinstatement to next Wednesday but says his party will quit the ruling coalition if the measure is not taken by then.

Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry, who is among the sacked judges, found Zardari guilty of corruption in the 1990s and could question the amnesty on those charges which allowed Zardari and Bhutto to return.

In the north-west of the country on Saturday a suicide-bomber killed three at a police station and troops claim to hav ekilled up to 35 Taliban fighters in the Swat valley.