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Sharif's candidacy papers rejected

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  • Former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif has his candidacy papers rejected
  • Had submitted nominations papers for Pakistan's parliamentary election
  • Returning officer in Lahore upheld ineligibility objections from other candidates
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan election officials on Monday disqualified opposition party leader and former former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from participating in January parliamentary elections.

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Election officials say Nawaz Sharif's previous convictions bar him from standing for reelection.

A spokesman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League told CNN Monday that Sharif had been barred by the election commission because of a previous criminal conviction.

Sharif filed paperwork for his candidacy last week, although he had left open the possibility that he would boycott the election in protest of a state of emergency imposed by President Pervez Musharraf.

Sharif, an outspoken critic of Musharraf, who ousted him from power in 1999, had said he wanted to keep all options open.

Sharif returned to Pakistan last month, ending seven years in exile in Saudi Arabia. He had first returned in September, but Pakistani authorities deported him within hours of his arrival.

Sharif was convicted of terrorism, hijacking and tax evasion after Musharraf seized power in 1999.

He was released in 2000 in exchange for agreeing to 10 years of exile in Saudi Arabia. He retained his Pakistani citizenship, but has not been allowed to travel to Pakistan or directly take part in Pakistani politics.

Musharraf, who quit as military leader and took office for a third term last week, has pledged to lift the state of emergency by December 16.

He was criticized of using the emergency to crack down on political rivals and to purge the judiciary of those likely to block the approval of his reappointment as leader. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

-- CNN's Zein Basravi contributed to this report.

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