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Pakistan's governing coalition breaks apart

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The governing coalition of Pakistan split on Monday after Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistani Prime Minister, pulled his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N), out of the government.

The coalition formed in March 2008 after the Pakistani general election failed to produce a party that had held a majority in Pakistan's parliament. The group consisted of the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The coalition controlled 50.2 percent of Pakistan's National Assembly and together held 15 of 100 seats in Pakistan's Senate.

The PPP and the PML-N disagree on two main issues: the reinstatement of judges fired by former President Pervez Musharraf and a nominee for President of Pakistan in the Pakistani presidential election on September 6, 2008. Musharraf resigned last week. Muhammad Mian Soomro, as chairman of the Senate, became the interim President.

The PPP opposes the restoration of judges, who they believe invalidate the ruling which allowed PPP party leader Asif Zardari and his late wife Benazir Bhutto to return to the country. If the amnesty were to be nullified, Zardari could be indicted on corruption charges stemming from incidents as far back as 1990. Zardari was also accused of corruption in the United Kingdom but the case was dropped in March.

For the presidential election, the PML-N nominated former Supreme Court chief justice, Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, while the PPP nominated Zardari. Other people who have filed paperwork to stand in the elections are: Sakhawat Ali, Advocate Shakil Ahmed, Dr Mian Ehsan Bari, Ameer Ali Patti Walla and Mirza Asif Baig.

* Razzak Abro "Zardari gets nomination papers". Daily Times (Pakistan), August 26, 2008
* "Sharif withdraws party from Pakistan ruling coalition". CNN, August 25, 2008
* "PML-N parts ways with ruling coalition". Daily Jang, August 25, 2008
* "Pakistan coalition in major split". BBC News Online, August 25, 2008

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