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Pakistan President Musharraf Approved to Run For Re-Election, Police Clash With Protesters and Media

Pakistan's election commission has approved President Pervez Musharraf's re-election bid a day after the Supreme Court dismissed challenges to his candidacy. Police clashed Saturday with protesters opposed to General Musharraf. Some protesting lawyers, at least one government official, and several journalists were injured. Daniel Schearf reports from Islamabad.

Pakistan's election commission Saturday approved General Musharraf's nomination to run for another five-year term as president while maintaining his post as army chief.

The approval did not come as a surprise. The commission had earlier this month said President Musharraf was exempt from constitutional amendments that prevent civil servants from running for office.

In addition to the president, the election commission approved several other nominations, including two main candidates: retired Supreme Court justice Wajihuddin Ahmed, who is running with the support of the lawyers, and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, the vice-chairman of exiled Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.

The approvals follow the Supreme Court's decision Friday to dismiss objections to General Musharraf's run for re-election while in uniform.

Opposition parties and a group of lawyers had argued his "dual office" campaign was unconstitutional.

As the nominations were reviewed, hundreds of protesting lawyers and activists clashed with police outside the election commission and Supreme Court buildings. Police fired tear gas and used batons to beat protesters as well as journalists covering the event.

Several journalists beat Pakistan's state minister of information, Tariq Azim, as he attempted to leave the scene. Clashes between police and protesters also took place in major cities throughout Pakistan.

Ali Ahmed Kurd, a senior leader of the lawyer's movement against General Musharraf's continued rule, says the movement was for peace and democracy but President Musharraf and his allies pushed them into a wall with their brutality. He says they are now in a state of war, with Pakistan lawyers and journalists on one side and President Musharraf and a few of his generals on the other side.

Opposition party members have threatened to withdraw their nominations for president and resign from legislative assemblies in protest if General Musharraf were allowed to run for president as Army chief. General Musharraf has said he will give up the Army post but only if he wins the presidential election.

President Musharraf's public approval rating has dropped since he attempted in March to fire the chief justice of the Supreme Court. His government has also been condemned both domestically and internationally for detaining opposition party leaders.

National and provincial legislative assemblies will elect Pakistan's president on October 6. Parliamentary elections are due sometime before the end of January.