Pakistan's (search) Senate passed a bill Monday allowing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) to remain as army chief, despite the military leader's earlier promise to rule as a civilian by the year's end.

Lawmakers in the upper house of parliament, which is dominated by the pro-Musharraf ruling party, approved the bill in a voice vote. It must now been signed into law by the president himself, seen as a formality.

The bill was approved by the National Assembly, or lower house, last month.

The opposition has condemned Musharraf's retention of his army post, the source of most of his power, as consolidation of a military dictatorship.

Musharraf, a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terrorism, took power in a bloodless coup five years ago. He oversaw parliamentary elections in 2002 but remains the dominant force in Pakistan.