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Pakistani Police Confront Opposition Leader Supporters

Pakistani police have again confronted protesters angered over a Supreme Court decision banning opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother from elected office.

Witnesses say police fired tear gas to disperse dozens of stone-throwing protesters Friday near the capital, Islamabad.

On Thursday, thousands of people protested in Pakistan in support of Mr. Sharif, who denounced the Supreme Court ruling. He also called for more protests at a rally near the eastern city of Lahore in Punjab province.

Smaller protests erupted in Islamabad.

Wednesday's ruling upheld the election ban on Mr. Sharif because of a prior criminal conviction related to his terms as prime minister in the 1990s. The decision also removed his brother, Shahbaz, as chief minister of Punjab province.

Late Wednesday, President Zardari compounded tensions by imposing governor's rule - direct rule by his representative - in Punjab for two months.

Following last year's general elections, Nawaz Sharif's political party joined the ruling coalition headed by President Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party. Mr. Sharif later quit after the president refused to reinstate top judges fired by former President Pervez Musharraf.

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