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Bhutto Calls for Pakistan President's Resignation


Former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto has called for General Pervez Musharraf to resign as president and said she will never serve as prime minister under him.

Speaking by telephone from the city of Lahore, where she is under house arrest, Ms. Bhutto told reporters that the situation in Pakistan can only get worse if what she described as the "dictatorship" of President Musharraf were allowed to continue.

Ms. Bhutto has previously called for General Musharraf to step down as head of the military and become a civilian president, but this is the first time she has demanded he resign altogether.

Police placed Ms. Bhutto under house arrest late Monday, ahead of a planned mass march Tuesday from Lahore to Islamabad to pressure President Musharraf to restore the constitution and resign as army chief of staff.

But police said all demonstrations are banned under the state of emergency and that they received intelligence of a possible attack at the rally.

Police outside the Bhutto residence arrested dozens of supporters Tuesday, who tried to break down barriers and enter the home. Police officials said the house is now a jail.

In related news, foreign ministers of the Commonwealth of Britain and its former colonies meeting in London gave Pakistan until November 22nd to restore its constitution and lift the emergency rule or face suspension.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon also said the government must lift curbs on the press and create favorable conditions for free and fair elections.

The Associated Press late Monday quoted the Pakistani High Commission in London as saying Islamabad's decisions would not be made according to deadlines "imposed from the outside."

President Bush and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Pakistan to lift emergency rule to ensure free and fair elections.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino added General Musharraf also must shed his army uniform because President Bush thinks the general cannot be both president and the chief of the army.

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

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