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Pakistan drops corruption charges against former PM Bhutto

[JURIST] Pakistan agreed Tuesday to drop pending corruption charges [JURIST report] against former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC profile], permitting Bhutto to enter the country for talks between her Pakistani People's Party [party website] and President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Musharraf is seeking Bhutto's endorsement as he faces a controversial re-election October 6. Bhutto left the country in 1999 in the face of corruption allegations after her government collapsed. She still retains wide support in her party, the largest in Pakistan, but risks losing popularity with the Pakistani public if she reaches any kind of agreement with Musharraf, who later in 1999 ousted a democratically elected government led by Bhutto successor Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] in a military coup.

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, though Musharraf has said that he will step down as head of the army should he be re-elected as president. On Tuesday, Musharraf designated Lieutenant-General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as his successor as army chief "after the post falls vacant." The Pakistani People's Party has not taken an official stance on the election. VOA has more.

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