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Pakistan's Musharraf Cleared to Keep Army Post

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf is free to run for another term while holding on to his post as army chief, the country's Supreme Court said Friday, in a move that angered opposition leaders who had been demanding he relinquish control of the military.

Opposition leaders said they would keep fighting to sideline Musharraf after the judges' 6-3 ruling that removed the last major obstacle to his seeking another five-year term in an Oct. 6 election.

Presiding Judge Rana Bhagwandas gave no immediate reason for the ruling, which drew howls of protests from lawyers in the gallery of the packed, cavernous courtroom.

"These petitions are held to be non-maintainable," Bhagwandas said, to chants of, "Shame, shame!" and "Go, Musharraf, go!"

Critics Maintain Miliary Post Disqualifies Musharraf

While the government has insisted all along that Musharraf is a qualified candidate, critics have countered that he cannot run because he has retained his military position.

The ruling coalition says it has enough support among federal and provincial lawmakers who will vote to ensure victory for Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup.

The general has faced growing political opposition since March when he failed in a bid to oust Pakistan's top judge. He has also struggled to contain growing Islamic extremism.

With his popularity and clout eroding, the general has said he would leave his army role if he wins the election, restoring civilian rule in a country that has lurched between unstable elected governments and military's regimes during its 60-year history.

Rashid Qureshi, Musharraf's spokesman, said the president "respects and honors" the ruling.

"Justice triumphs," Qureshi added.

From NPR reports and The Associated Press

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