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Suspended Pakistan CJ lauds judicial independence in high court address

[JURIST] Thousands of Pakistanis rallied outside the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] Saturday in support of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive], who returned to the court building for the first time since being suspended [JURIST report] by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [official website]. Saturday's crowd of about 5,000, including many lawyers, chanted "Go Musharraf, go" among other slogans. In a thinly-veiled speech directed at the president, Chaudhry told a seminar that an independent judiciary "is a strong bulwark against abuse of power and tyrannical rule" and added that "abuse of power often occurs in a system of governance where there is centralization of all power in one person or in one institution and that is dangerous."

Musharraf suspended Chaudhry on March 9 "after receiving numerous complaints and serious allegations for misconduct, misuse of authority and actions prejudicial to the dignity of office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan." Many Pakistani lawyers and opposition leaders believe Chaudhry's suspension was an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.

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