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Pakistani Lawyers Rally Against President Musharraf


Hundreds of Pakistani lawyers boycotted courts and rallied in several major cities Thursday, demanding that President Pervez Musharraf step down.

Wearing black arm bands, they marched in the capital Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, and Peshawar and called for an end to military rule.

Also Thursday, President Musharraf's lawyers told the Supreme Court that his term in office expires on November 15. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry on Wednesday ordered the government to specify when the president's term ends.

According to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Pakistan's presidential election by parliament will take place between mid-September and mid-October.

Opponents of the president fear he will try to win re-election from the current parliament, where the majority is held by Mr. Musharraf's ruling party.

General Musharraf seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, toppling then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mr. Sharif says he plans to return to Pakistan from exile next week to campaign to end Mr. Musharraf's rule.

Meanwhile, the president is discussing a power-sharing deal with another former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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