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Sun 7 Oct 2007 11:45 AM

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Musharraf sweeps to victory in Pakistan

General re-elected president for second five-year term, but still faces court decision on poll’s legality.

General Pervez Musharraf was re-elected president of Pakistan on Saturday with overwhelming majority, but still faces a Supreme Court decision on the poll’s legality that could overturn the result.

The military ruler - who seized control of Pakistan in a 1999 coup - won another five-year term in the controversial election from the two chambers of parliament and four provincial assemblies, newswire AFP reported.

However, the election was boycotted by almost the entire opposition.

The country's Supreme Court also said the result cannot be confirmed until it decides the legality of the poll and hears opposition challenges against Musharraf’s right to stand while keeping his position as army chief, the newswire said.

The court will begin hearing challenges on October 17.

Musharraf has insisted he won the election democratically, telling reporters: “Democracy means majority, whether there is opposition or no opposition,” quoted AFP.

However, he refused to rule out emergency action and could impose "surgical martial law" to maintain stability in the country if the court overturns the result.

Musharraf bagged 252 votes out of a total of 257 that were cast in the national assembly and senate. Three of the votes were rejected.

The general is negotiating a power-sharing deal with two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that would allow her to run for her old job. Bhutto is expected to return to Pakistan from exile on October 18.

Last month Pakistan’s Election Commission approved General Musharraf’s candidacy for re-election despite still being army chief.

The move came just a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a number of challenges to his eligibility to stand in the upcoming election.

Both decisions sparked massive demonstrations in the capital Islamabad and Lahore.

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