26 May 2009

Pakistan court lifts election ban on Sharif

11:25 pm on 26 May 2009

Pakistan's Supreme Court has overturned a ban that prevented opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz from running for political office.

The ruling means that Mr Sharif will be able to take part in elections in 2013.

The former prime minister and leader of the PML-N party is one of the most popular politicians in the country, the BBC reports.

Mr Sharif's ban from standing for election related to an old conviction which he has always said was politically motivated.

He lost power in a bloodless coup led by then army chief Pervez Musharraf in 1999, and was forced into exile a year later in Saudi Arabia.

But in November 2007 Mr Sharif was allowed to fly back to Pakistan, and helped force President Musharraf from office in 2008.

Sharif supporters broke into cheers soon after the Supreme Court made its judgement on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, it had ruled that Mr Sharif was not eligible to hold public office, prompting him to accuse President Asif Ali Zardari of being behind the move.

The two men had an uneasy alliance which saw them easily win last year's general elections, but they soon fell out.