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Negotiations on for Musharraf's resignation

Latest update : 2008-08-15

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is ready to resign, said a coalition government official on Friday. In exchange, he may negotiate immunity from prosecution, according to FRANCE 24's correspondent in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Pakistan's President Pervez
Musharraf is ready to resign rather than face impeachment but
is seeking immunity from prosecution for imposing emergency
rule, a coalition government official said on Friday.

Speculation has been mounting that the former army chief
Musharraf and firm U.S. ally would quit since the ruling
coalition, led by the party of assassinated former prime
minister Benazir Bhutto, said last week it planned to impeach

A spokesman for the president has repeatedly denied media
reports that he was about to quit, and he did so again on

But a coalition official said negotiations on the terms of
the unpopular president's resignation were going on.

"He is ready to resign but he is putting conditions like
indemnity for the November 3 action," said the official, who
declined to be identified, referring to Musharraf's imposition
of six weeks of emergency rule last year.

"Back-door talks are still going on. Things have not yet
been finalised. Let's see what happens," said the official, who
has knowledge of the talks.

The long-running crisis surrounding Musharraf's future has
heightened concern in the United States and among other allies
about the stability of the nuclear-armed Muslim state, which is
in the front line of the campaign against Islamist militancy.

Uncertainty over his fate is unnerving investors, with the
rupee weakening on Friday to another record low against the
dollar, at about 76.30/40, for the fourth straight session.

But stocks <.KSE>, which have been hovering near two-year
lows, rose 3.6 percent as investors cheered Musharraf's
possible departure as a milestone that would ease political

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup but has been isolated
since his allies lost a February election.

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino referred
to reports of Musharraf's resignation plan as a "rumour mill",
adding that the United States considered the leadership of
Pakistan an issue for Pakistanis.


Musharraf's chief spokesman, retired Major-General Rashid
Qureshi, said he had no idea of any plan by Musharraf to step
down or that there were negotiations about his resignation.

"I'm tired of saying there's no such thing," he said.

But Tariq Azeem Khan, a politician close to Musharraf and a
former deputy government minister, said talks were going on.

"Well-wishers are trying to ensure that matters are settled
amicably through discussions rather than going through a long,
protracted impeachment process," he said.

In an Independence Day address on Thursday Musharraf issued
a call for reconciliation to tackle economic and security

But his appeal was rejected, with coalition officials
saying steps to impeach the president were on track.

The Financial Times quoted an unidentified government
member as saying a deal had been brokered and Musharraf would

It said Musharraf had demanded he be allowed to retire to
his farm in Islamabad and that there be no moves to prosecute
him once out of office. It quoted an official as saying the
powerful army had insisted Musharraf's demands be met.

Coalition leaders said this week the army, which has ruled
for more than half the country's history since its founding in
1947, would not intervene to back its old boss. Analysts say
the army is loath to step into the fray.

Coalition officials have been hoping Musharraf would quit
to avoid impeachment, while some allies have said he should at
least answer charges brought against him before stepping down.

"The next 48 hours are important. If he does not resign
then we are ready to move the impeachment motion against him on
Monday," said another coalition official.

Bhutto party official Farhatullah Babar said his party and
its main coalition partner, the party of former prime minister
Nawaz Sharif, who Musharraf ousted in 1999, differed on the
question of prosecuting the president.

Sharif said on Thursday Musharraf had to face the
consequences of his actions but Babar said any decision should
be left to parliament.

Date created : 2008-08-15