‘Indoor’ political activity allowed in Bangladesh

May 13th, 2008 - 12:57 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 13 (IANS) Bangladesh’s army-backed caretaker government has permitted political parties to resume their operations ahead of the elections that would be held in the third week of December, but restricted their functioning to indoor meetings. Political parties said they were disappointed with the government’s move that comes after months of demands supported by Western donors, including the US, Britain and European Union.

A countrywide ban on ‘indoor politics’ was slapped by the government March 8, 2007, almost two months after the declaration of emergency on Jan 11.

The government however allowed ‘indoor politics’ again, albeit only in the capital, from Sep 10, 2007, with a set of conditions attached.

The government Monday relaxed the Emergency Power Rules (EPR), allowing the parties to resume their organisational activities on a limited scale all over the country beginning Tuesday, the New Age newspaper said.

According to a gazette notification issued by the home ministry, political parties may hold meetings to discuss only organisational affairs and preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“No discussion can be held or decision can be taken on other issues,” said a home ministry source quoting from the government notification.

Offices of all political parties at all levels are likely to start buzzing again with their leaders and workers after over a year’s hiatus, the newspaper said.

An earlier indication of the move to allow political parties to restart operations, including the announcement of elections being scheduled for December, came in a broadcast to the nation by Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed.

Ahmed had taken office in Jan 11, 2007, and imposed emergency, ending months of political turmoil. He had called off the general elections.

Bangladesh has since witnessed a drive against crime and corruption. Former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia are among the prominent people in jail facing trial on multiple charges.

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