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Pakistan president weighing deal on judges to stop latest protests: report

[JURIST] Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and his Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) [party website] Saturday were considering offering a compromise deal [Daily Times report]
to opposition factions - including members of the lawyers' movement [NYT backgrounder; JURIST news archive] - currently engaged in crippling anti-government protests and a "long march" [JURIST report] on Islamabad, according to local media reports. Under the terms of the deal, the government would fully reinstate the as-yet-unrestored judges ousted in November 2007 by then-president Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive] and would file an appeal [GEO TV report] of a recent Supreme Court ruling that barred [JURIST report] former prime minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) [party website] and his brother from holding elected office based on prior criminal convictions arising out of the 1999 military coup that overthrew him.

The current long march, which began amid preemptive arrests and government violence [JURIST report] against opposition members, is similar to last year's lawyers' demonstrations against the Musharraf regime. Continuing turmoil over the country's judiciary split the PML-N and Zardari's PPP, formerly coalition partners [JURIST report]. Sharif and the PML-N have urged the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], removed after then-president Musharraf declared emergency rule. Chaudhry, supported by many members of Pakistan's bar, insists he is still chief justice [JURIST report] under the Pakistani constitution [text].

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