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Pakistan high court dismisses most challenges to Musharraf re-election bid

[JURIST] The reconstituted Pakistan Supreme Court [official website] Monday dismissed five out of six challenges to the October re-election [JURIST reports] of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website; JURIST news archive] while still serving as chief of Pakistan's army. The court will hear the sixth petition later this week. Among the rejected petitions was that of former Chief Justice Wajihuddin Ahmad [Wikipedia profile], who had argued [JURIST report] that the new Supreme Court bench, staffed by judges who have sworn an oath [text] under Musharraf's Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text, as amended] "is in no legal position to rehear the case, as the Constitution does not recognise it." On Monday, however, Justice Nawaz Abbasi told Ahmad's lawyer that he risked contempt charges and the cancellation of his license if he kept challenging the reconstituted court's legitimacy. Presidential candidate Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the vice chairman of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party [party website], also had his challenge to Musharraf's re-election dismissed Monday.

Musharraf has vowed to step down as chief of Pakistan's army [JURIST report] once the high court clears his October re-election, but he now must wait until the high court rules on the sixth challenge. Under Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule [JURIST report], the government has cracked down on its critics, detaining thousands of lawyers, rights activists and opposition politicians. The declaration of emergency rule also effectively dismissed the 19 judges of Pakistan's Supreme Court, which Musharraf has been gradually reconstituting [JURIST report] by appointees hand selected by him. Bloomberg has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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