Bangladesh pledges to lift state of emergency ahead of polls

Other News Materials 25 November 2008 16:18 (UTC +04:00)

Bangladesh's military-backed government Tuesday said it would completely lift the state of emergency ahead of the stalled parliamentary polls deferred to December 29, reported dpa.

"No elections will be held under emergency. The government will lift the state of emergency at a reasonable time," Hossain Zilliur Rahman, a key adviser to the interim administration, told reporters after a meeting of the panel of advisers negotiating political parties for a credible election.

Army Chief Moeen U Ahmed, also announced that he would request the government to end nearly two years of emergency rule ahead of the general elections.

"The government needs to do this," said the army chief. However, no date was specified.

The crucial announcements came after the Election Commission revised the election schedule by 11 days from the previously announced voting date of December 18 in the face of pressure from the immediate-past ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance.

Bangladesh's President Iajuddin Ahmed promulgated the state of emergency on January 11, 2007 suspending all civil and political rights in the wake of political turmoil.

The parliamentary elections, which were originally scheduled for January 22, 2007, was also postponed because of the proclamation.

Bangladesh's major political parties, rights groups, international donors and poll observers have long been asking the government to lift the state of emergency to create an atmosphere conducive for fresh elections.

The Election Commission, earlier, requested the government to lift the state of emergency as the parties demanded.

Uncertainty over holding of the polls has apparently vanished as both the major political camps led by the country's two former prime ministers - Sheikh Hasina Wajed of Awami League and Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh Nationalist Party - started electioneering under the revised polls schedule.

Several hundreds MP-hopefuls of the BNP collected nomination forms to get party tickets to run in the national polls. They will face an interview board to get on the party ticket to file their nomination papers to 300-parliamentary constituencies by November 30.

The Awami League has finalised its candidates, who already started campaigns in their respective constituencies.

The party said Monday that it accepted the fresh schedule for the greater national elections.