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Pakistan's President Appoints New Acting Chief Justice


Pakistan's president Thursday appointed a second acting chief justice to replace suspended chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The most senior justice on the nation's Supreme Court, Rana Bhagwandas, is expected to take the oath of office as acting chief justice within the next two days.

Bhagwandas had been out of the country, but returned to Pakistan Wednesday. He will replace the current acting chief justice, Javed Iqbal.

The judicial upheaval follows the March 9 decision by military ruler Pervez Musharraf to suspend Justice Chaudhry, alleging abuse of power. General Musharraf also referred Chaudhry to a top judicial panel.

Justice Bhagwandas will serve on that panel, which is scheduled to hear the case against Chaudhry on April 3.

His suspension has caused a public outcry against General Musharraf. Lawyers have held almost daily protests, claiming the president's move was an attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary.

Several people were injured during a protest Wednesday in the city of Quetta as police used batons and tear gas to disperse crowds.

Also Wednesday, thousands of demonstrators rallied in the capital, Islamabad, and the eastern city of Lahore. Police detained more than 100 people in Lahore in what they called "pre-emptive" arrests.

Several legal professionals in Pakistan have resigned in protest of Chaudhry's removal.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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