02:50 GMT +323 March 2018
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    Pakistan swears in caretaker govt., frees opposition leader

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    ISLAMABAD, November 16 (RIA Novosti) - A caretaker government was sworn in on Friday in Pakistan, shortly after opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was released from house arrest.

    The government, led by Mohammadmian Soomro, speaker of the upper house of parliament, is to ensure the smooth conduct of early parliamentary elections in January 2008.

    After being released from house arrest, Bhutto told reporters that the interim government overseeing elections was "not acceptable," and that there could be "no fair and free elections under the emergency."

    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is due in Pakistan later today to discuss the ongoing political crisis.

    Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff intends to resign as commander-in-chief before the start of December, the country's prosecutor general said on Thursday.

    "The president said that he will take off his uniform before December 1 of this year," Malik Mohammad Qayyum told a news conference in the country's capital, Islamabad.

    General Musharraf seized power in a military coup in 1999. He has retained his presidential and military titles, as well as the right to dissolve parliament and dismiss the government.

    Although Musharraf is known to have won the country's October 6 presidential elections, the results will only be officially announced after the Supreme Court rules on an opposition party petition alleging that he, as the armed forces commander in chief, was not entitled to run.

    A state of emergency was announced by Musharraf in Pakistan on November 3, citing a dangerous rise in militant activity.

    The president banned the Supreme Court from overturning the emergency order, blocked non-state TV broadcasts, and restricted people's movement in the country, measures which have been widely condemned by the international community.

    However, most Pakistanis and foreign diplomats believe General Musharraf's decision was aimed at preventing the Supreme Court from invalidating his reelection in October while he was still the army chief.

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