The Pakistani Supreme Court on Friday threw a last-minute wrench into President Pervez Musharraf’s re-election plans, ruling that the vote could take place today as scheduled but results would be frozen until the justices decided on his eligibility to run while serving as army chief.
Meanwhile, a political alliance between Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto moved closer to fruition as the president signed into law an amnesty for Bhutto on corruption charges. That paves the way for her return this month to lead her party in parliamentary elections expected by early next year.
The highly unusual court ruling, the latest twist in months of legal wrangling over how and whether Pakistan should move toward civilian rule, appeared to catch both sides by surprise.
Last week, the Supreme Court dismissed challenges to Musharraf’s re-election bid on largely technical grounds. Friday’s ruling, though, opens the door to a fuller examination of whether the constitution prohibits Musharraf, as chief of the army, from claiming another term as president.
The Pakistani leader has promised to step down as head of the military in the next five weeks – but only if he is re-elected president.
Drug ‘queen’ faces Mexico trial
A Mexican judge on Friday ordered Sandra Avila Beltran, a reputed drug cartel leader called “The Queen of the Pacific,” to stand trial on charges of organized crime, money-laundering and conspiracy to traffic drugs.
The ruling means that Avila Beltran who is wanted in the United States, won’t be extradited until her trial is finished in Mexico City. Known for her insouciance and good looks, prosecutors have linked Avila Beltran romantically to several top traffickers.
Local media have described the government’s case against Avila Beltran as weak. But a federal judge ruled there was enough evidence to justify a trial on the charges.
Avila Beltran was arrested last week along with her Colombian boyfriend, reputed drug lord Juan Diego Espinoza Ramirez, in an upscale Mexico City neighborhood.