Lahore: Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was freed from house arrest on Friday, hours after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf appointed a new prime minister.

Jail officials left Bhutto's residence in Lahore where she has been held to prevent her from leading a pro-democracy rally against Musharraf's emergency rule.

"The government has withdrawn Bhutto's detention order, and from now, she is free to move wherever she likes," said Aftab Cheema, police chief of the eastern city of Lahore.

"Police will remain [outside] for her security, but there will be no restriction on her movement," Cheema said.

Bhutto's release comes ahead of a planned visit by US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who will push General Musharraf to end the emergency rule.

Meanwhile, Musharraf swore in as caretaker prime minister Mohammadmian Soomro, an ally, and a 24-member cabinet packed with loyalists to oversee the election.

Bhutto, who was due to hold a news conference later on Friday, has said the possibility of a vote boycott would be discussed at an opposition meeting on November 21.

Lahore police official Malik Mohammad Iqbal said detained women activists would be released on Friday but a Bhutto loyalist said it was only done to impress Americans.