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Pak coalition set to announce Prez's fate

Pak's ruling coalition says it expects to announce later today whether it will impeach President Musharraf, as talks between the leaders of the alliance neared an end.

world Updated: Aug 07, 2008 12:16 IST

Pakistan's ruling coalition said it expects to announce later on Thursday whether it will impeach President Pervez Musharraf, as marathon talks between the leaders of the alliance neared an end.

Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former premier Benazir Bhutto, and former premier Nawaz Sharif have been locked in three days of meetings in a bid to resolve a paralysing dispute over how to tackle Musharraf.

The president was set to leave for China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, after postponing his scheduled departure on Wednesday by 24 hours, but he had still to fly out.

"A joint press statement or a joint press conference is expected this evening. Work is under way to finalise the draft of a joint statement," Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, told AFP.

A spokesman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also said an announcement was due.

"Nawaz Sharif will chair a meeting of his party officials. Then he is expected to address a joint press conference later in the afternoon," PML spokesman Siddiqul Farooq told AFP.

Local newspaper reports on Wednesday said Zardari and Sharif had agreed to call on Musharraf to quit and then impeach him if he refused, but the talks appeared to run into difficulties.

Talks between the two sides continued past midnight and ended early on Thursday. The president has resisted growing pressure in recent weeks to quit, saying he was willing to work with the coalition to tackle problems such as rising Islamic militancy and soaring food and fuel prices.

The coalition has been split by the twin issues of what to do about Musharraf and how to carry out their pledge to reinstate senior judges sacked by the president under emergency rule.

The rift has caused a sense of paralysis in the government, which is under huge US pressure over its efforts to negotiate with Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants based near the Afghan border.