[JURIST] Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] signed a "reconciliation ordinance" Friday, granting amnesty to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC profile] on corruption charges. The agreement reached between the two political rivals [BBC backgrounder] clears the way Bhutto to return to Pakistan from self-exile in London and Dubai to campaign in parliamentary elections for prime minister later this year. The ordinance also applies to similar charges against politicians who were charged, but not convicted, of corruption between 1988 and 1999. Talks on the power-sharing accord between Musharraf and Bhutto seemed to break down [JURIST report] earlier this week. Musharraf said Wednesday that reported Pakistani promises to drop pending corruption charges [JURIST reports] against Bhutto amounted to "disinformation." Bhutto needed the corruption charges dropped so that she could re-enter the country for personal talks between her Pakistani People's Party [party website] and Musharraf, while Musharraf needed Bhutto's endorsement for Saturday's election.
Musharraf's re-election bid has been widely criticized for violating a constitutional ban on holding dual roles as president and army chief; 85 opposition members of parliament resigned Tuesday in protest. Legal challenges [JURIST report] to Musharraf's candidacy remain, although one Supreme Court judge has already recused himself from the latest proceedings, a development that is expect to delay further hearings. The New York Times has more. Aljazeera has additional coverage.