Musharraf emergency rule to end in Pakistan (update)

    Pervez Musharraf was sworn in today for his second term as the president of Pakistan.

    The five-year term will be his first as a civilian, after he (tearfully) shed his post as army chief on Wednesday, a move he promised to make in 2004 but then ignored, saying the country needed a strong leader. He was re-elected by outgoing lawmakers in October but the Supreme Court held up his confirmation over complaints that he could not simultaneously hold military and civilian offices. Musharraf reacted by declaring a national state of emergency on November 3 and firing the chief justice.

    The U.S. — always the optimist — praised Musharraf’s assuming civilian status as a “good step” forward. Musharraf is considered a U.S. ally.

    There’s no word yet on whether Musharraf will be ending the state of emergency in time for general elections in January, though in his inaugural address, he extended an invitation to former prime ministers and opposition leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return from exile.

    “I only hope that they will … move forward toward a conciliatory, civilized, democratic and political environment in the future,” Musharraf said.

    Here’s to hoping, Musharraf.

    UPDATE Nov. 29, 10 a.m. CST: Musharraf to end state of emergency

    Musharraf announced that he would end the state of emergency on December 16, in time for parlimentary elections on January 8. From the New York Times:

    But he said parliamentary elections would now go ahead as scheduled on Jan. 8 without the need for emergency rule, and called on the opposition leaders Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to participate fully. Mr. Musharraf took the oath of office as president here in the capital today, a day after stepping down as military chief. At the official ceremony, he warned assembled foreign diplomats not to force democracy and human rights on developing countries, but to let them evolve in their own time.


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