Musharraf's party to contest local Pakistan elections

KARACHI (AFP) - Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is facing criminal proceedings, announced on Sunday that his party All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) would contest local government elections.

The 71-year-old returned to Pakistan in March 2013 after four years of self-imposed exile to run in general elections, vowing to "save" the country from Taleban violence and economic ruin.

But Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999 and resigned in 2008, was barred from standing and put under house arrest over numerous criminal charges - including treason.

APML were mauled - winning only one seat - as Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) swept to power, but on Sunday Musharraf launched an audacious bid to see his party re-emerge as a force.

"We will go in local body polls with the slogan of 'Pakistan first' and win," he told AMPL's central executive committee.

Elections to elect local government representatives are expected to take place in three provinces later this year.

Musharraf, the first former army chief to be charged with treason, also predicted early general elections and directed his party to prepare for a national campaign.

Musharraf is facing several major criminal cases linked to his time in power, including the 2007 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in a gun and suicide attack but proceedings have repeatedly stalled.

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