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Pakistan lawyers convention calls for election boycott, judges reinstatement

[JURIST] A national convention of Pakistani lawyers meeting in Lahore Saturday called on its members to boycott upcoming parliamentary elections in the country and urged political parties to do the same. The All Pakistan Lawyers' Representatives Convention said that efforts must be focused on restoring the suspended 1973 constitution and reinstating judges ousted after President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency rule [JURIST news archive] on the country on November 3. The group unanimously passed resolutions refusing to recognize new judges appointed under the Provisional Constitution Order [text], condemning the eviction of the deposed judges from their official residences, and calling for the release of all lawyers still detained or under house arrest. It also condemned as unlawful recent changes to the Army Act allowing court-martial of civilians and amendments to the Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act giving judges more disciplinary authority over lawyers.

Several judges ousted from the Lahore High Court were placed under house arrest prior to the convention in an apparent bid to stop them from attending. From Pakistan, the News has more.

9:15 PM ET - The lawyers' boycott call suffered a setback Sunday when ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N party, announced [statement] that he would contest the January 8 elections after failing to reach an agreement with ex-PM Benazir Bhutto's PPP on boycott terms. Sharif had urged Bhutto to forego the vote, but concluded that "any partial boycott would be disastrous for the opposition", insisting that "we must participate in the elections to block Mr. Musharraf's unconstitutional actions." BBC News has more.

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