[JURIST] Pakistani national and provincial legislators on Saturday elected Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari [CV; JURIST news archive] as president. Zardari, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive], defeated two other candidates, including retired chief justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui, put forward by Nawaz Sharif [JURIST news archive], leader of the PPP's former coalition partner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The PML-N withdrew from the coalition government [JURIST report] late last month following disagreements over whether to reinstate all judges ousted by former President Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive]. The Chicago Tribune has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.
Zardari previously spent over eleven years in prison for allegations of misconduct during his wife's tenure as prime minister, although corruption and smuggling charges [JURIST reports] against him were dismissed earlier this year. Zardari and Bhutto were suspected of using Swiss bank accounts to launder up to $12 million paid by companies that were contracted with the Pakistani government to perform customs inspections. Under the Pakistani Constitution of 1973, the president must be a Muslim, be at least thirty-five years old, and is elected by a electoral college composed of members of the Pakistani Senate, National Assembly, and Provincial Assemblies for a term of five years.