Zardari unveils plan to drive Musharraf from power
Monday, 26 May 2008

REUTERS, ISLAMABAD - The head of the party leading Pakistan's ruling coalition unveiled proposed constitutional changes on Saturday that would take away President Pervez Musharraf's powers.

"We intend to walk him away, rather than impeach him away," said Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded his late wife Benazir Bhutto as leader of the Pakistan People's Party after her assassination last December.

Zardari said the amendments would remove the president's right to dismiss the government and pass responsibility for appointing heads of the armed services and provincial governors to the prime minister.

The PPP has to consult its three coalition allies over the draft amendments, which could be put before parliament by the end of June.

The coalition allies defeated pro-Musharraf parties in a general election in February, and a government was sworn in at the end of March under Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, a PPP loyalist picked by Zardari.

How to tackle U.S. ally Musharraf, who came to power in a 1999 coup, has already led to strains within the coalition.

Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister overthrown by Musharraf, pulled nine ministers from his party out of the cabinet two weeks ago to protest the PPP's failure to reinstate judges Musharraf had dismissed during a brief phase of emergency rule last November.

The legality of Musharraf's re-election last October while still army chief by the outgoing parliament was being challenged in the Supreme Court, when Musharraf purged the judiciary.

Musharraf's foes have talked of impeaching him for invoking emergency rule on Nov. 3, but Zardari has been wary of provoking Musharraf while he still possesses sweeping powers.

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