Pakistan Limits President's Power

ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan's prime minister says lawmakers "have empowered the masses today."

The lower house of parliament unanimously approved a constitutional amendment stripping the president of powers inherited from the country's former military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

The power to dissolve parliament and appoint military chiefs and judges would shift to the prime minister.

With cross-party support, observers say the measure's passage could help calm political tensions in the country.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it will need a two-thirds majority to pass. It will also need the signature of President Asif Ali Zardari to be implemented.

Zardari promised he would relinquish the powers when he was elected
in 2008.

The changes would turn the presidency into a largely ceremonial post, though Zardari will still wield significant influence.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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