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Sharif Loses Appeal for Candidacy in Pakistani Election

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has lost his appeal to take part in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Pakistan's election commission also rejected the appeal of his brother Shahbaz Sharif on Monday. Both men were contesting an earlier decision barring their candidacy in the January 8 elections.

Election officials cited past criminal convictions in rejecting Mr. Sharif's nomination papers. His brother Shahbaz is facing murder charges.

Officials with Mr. Sharif's party said the decision is part of the Musharraf's government plan to rig the election.

The former prime minister has been campaigning on behalf of his opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party. He has called for the reinstatement of Supreme Court judges fired under emergency rule.

In southern Pakistan Tuesday, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto addressed a crowd of more than 7,000 supporters and predicted defeat for pro-Musharraf parties.

Next month's parliamentary election is seen as a three-way race among the parties of Mr. Sharif, Ms. Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf.

Nine thousand candidates are expected to compete in the poll.

Mr. Musharraf has pledged that the elections will be fair and transparent. But opposition political figures say Mr. Musharraf has already rigged the balloting to favor his supporters.

On Saturday, the president ended emergency rule, saying the controversial measure he imposed November 3 was a last resort to save Pakistan from destabilization.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.