The interim government of Bangladesh has lifted the state of emergency. That
clears the way for campaigning on the streets, ahead of this month's national
election. It is hoped the polls will lead to the restoration of stable
democratic governance in one of Asia's poorest and most-corrupt countries.
Bangladeshi government officials have confirmed emergency provisions
have been lifted, after being in effect for nearly two years.
by the army-backed interim government allows less than two weeks of political
campaigning and rallies, ahead of the December 29 election.
executive director of Transparency International in Bangladesh, Iftekhar Zaman,
is hailing the move.
"This is an important step," said Zaman. "We always
wanted that the elections should be held in a condition where people can take
part freely and fairly with enthusiasm and without any threats or intimidation
Army troops, augmenting police and para-military forces,
will be providing extra security, beginning later this week through election
day, attempting to ensure violence-free campaigning and polling.
be a change from most recent elections, when the fierce rivalry between the
Awami League and the Bangladesh National Party has led to bloodshed.
new electoral code has been put in place and a national list of voters has been
compiled. For the first time, Bangladesh will be using an electronic voting
Zaman says these innovations raise hopes for a smooth election.
"In general, I would expect that the elections will be sufficiently free
and free. But we don't know, because in Bangladesh things can change in a few
hours or a few days," added Zaman. "We will have our fingers crossed and expect
that things will go smoothly."
Bangladesh, since gaining independence
from Pakistan in 1971, has gone through a series of coups and counter-coups.
The interim government, with the backing of the military, has been in
power since January, 2007, following a period of political turmoil.
leaders of the two main rival parties rotated as heads of government during a
15-year period, through 2006. Both women - former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina
and Khaleda Zia - were among the politicians arrested during the period of
emergency rule and charged with corruption. Their release from jail and the
lifting of the emergency were pre-conditions by their parties for participating
in the election.