Bangladeshi political rivals for lifting of emergency


Dhaka : The two major political parties in Bangladesh took respite from bitter rivalry Friday to mount pressure on the military-backed interim government to lift the emergency rule clamped nearly nine months ago, officials said.

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Top officials in the two former ruling parties were holding talks in a bid to iron out their differences and present a united platform against the caretaker administration.

The stance adopted by the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and the Awami League ran contrary to the plan of the Election Commission to withdraw the state of emergency two months ahead of the general election due before December 2008.

“We’re following a roadmap that is expected to restore democracy in the country after a gap of nearly a year,” said Chief Election Commissioner Shamsul Huda.

“The interim government has no other agenda than holding free and credible vote for a new parliament which in its turn will choose an elected government,” said Khandakar Delwar Hossain who was recently appointed BNP’s Secretary General.

The state of emergency was imposed across Bangladesh with curfews in big cities in January at the height of political violence triggered by a standoff between the outgoing prime minister Khaleda Zia and her arch political rival Shiekh Hasina.

A caretaker government was appointed to return to order, replacing lawlessness and vandalism that had left dozens dead according to media reports.

The interim administration launched a crackdown on corruption netting many top politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats on charges of graft.

“Without lifting emergency a free atmosphere for an acceptable poll will not be created,” said Awami League presidium member Tofail Ahmad.