Musharraf announces resignation

Pakistan's beleagured president Pervez Musharraf today finally fell on his sword and announced that he was standing down as the country's head of state.

After days of mounting speculation, Mr Musharraf delivered a televised speech to the nation in which he said he was resigning to avoid an impeachment battle that would harm the nation's interests.

Wearing a suit and tie and sitting in front of a photograph of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mr Musharraf launched a staunch defence of his eight-and-a-half years in office, a period that began when he seized power in a coup in 1999. He said he helped move the country towards democracy, had overseen steady economic growth and had strengthened the position of women. He said his enemies had leveled unfair charges against him.

Mr Musharraf, a long-time ally of the US, had seen his popularity sink since May 2007 when he sacked the country's Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The move resulted in widespread demonstrations of support for the judge who had dared stand up to the military leader.

"After consultations with legal advisers and close political supporters and on their advice, I'm taking the decision of resigning," said Mr Musharraf in his address. "My resignation will go to the speaker of the National Assembly today."

Two weeks ago the coalition government, led by the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, said it planned to impeach Mr Musharraf. The powerful army, which has ruled for more than half the country's 61-year history, publicly kept out of the controversy over its old boss.

The charges detailed in the impeachment papers were to include allegations that Mr Musharraf had violated the constitution. Mr Musharraf, 65, said he rejected the allegations but felt the country would suffer it he had to confront the charges

In recent days it became clear that Mr Musharraf's allies were negotiating a behind-the-scenes deal to aid his exit from office. They had been insisting that he receive full immunity from prosecution and he afforded appropriate security. It remains unclear whether the details of the deal have been fully agreed but it was clear that the PPP - if not its coalition ally, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif - was keen to give Mr Musharraf time to resign. Those involved in the negotiations involved officials from Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States and Britain.

The lengthy jockeying and uncertainty over Mr Musharraf's position had hurt Pakistan's financial markets and raised concern in Washington and among other allies it was distracting from efforts to tackle militants. Today, Pakistan's markets soared on the news that the president had resigned.

Mr Musharaff's resignation had been anticipated for some time. Since parliamentary elections in February in which he political opponents secured an overwhelming victory, his position had become increasingly fraught. Indeed, in the aftermath of the election it was questioned whether he could survive until the summer.

The all-important issue for Pakistan now is what happens next. The rivalry between the Mr Sharif and the PPP's leader, Asif Ali Zardari, is well known and it remains to be seen how the two parties will continue to work together. Both men have said they are not interested in becoming Pakistan's President. It is widely assumed, however, that both men will fight for the much more powerful position of Prime Minster.



Following is some detail of what happens when a president steps down:

* According to the constitution, the chairman of the Senate, the upper house of parliament, Mohammadmian Soomro, will become acting president.

* A new president will be elected within 30 days, for a five-year term.

* A president is elected by an electoral college made up of members of both houses of parliament and the four provincial assemblies.

* Traditionally in Pakistan, the president has been a figurehead with the prime minister holding most powers although under Musharraf the president was much more powerful.

* Musharraf retained the authority to dismiss parliament and make top military and judicial appointments but the coalition partners have vowed to strip the presidency of those powers and make it a ceremonial post.

News
John Moore inspired this Coca Cola Christmas advert
people

John Moore starred in Coca Cola and Morrisons adverts

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Are you looking for a...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £100,000: SThree: If you would like to work fo...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission £100k +: SThree: Trainee Recru...

Senior Automation Tester – Permanent – West Sussex – Circa £40k

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes