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Bangladesh lifts state of emergency: police chief

Bangladesh's army-backed government has lifted a state of emergency, in place for almost two years, as part of preparations to restore democracy in December 29 elections, the country's police chief said today.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2008 02:26 IST

Bangladesh's army-backed government has lifted a state of emergency, in place for almost two years, as part of preparations to restore democracy in December 29 elections, the country's police chief said today.

Inspector General of Police Nur Mohammad, confirmed to AFP that a presidential order to lift the emergency at one minute past midnight on Dec 17 had been fulfilled.

"There is no emergency after one minute past midnight (2331 IST Tuesday)," Mohammad said.

The move repeals laws that have been in place since the emergency was imposed on January 11, 2007, after months of violent nationwide political strikes brought the country to a standstill.

Many emergency provisions, which banned political gatherings and initially included a night-time curfew, have been relaxed in recent months.

Political campaigning has been permitted since Friday ahead of elections in 12 days that will see the caretaker authorities hand back power to a democratically elected government.

Scrapping the emergency completely has been a key demand of leaders of the two main political parties who threatened to boycott the polls if restrictions were still in place because they said the elections would not be free and fair.

International and domestic commentators, including western diplomats, have also called for an end to the curbs in order for credible elections to take place.

Although 60,000 army troops on patrol as part of the emergency were recalled last month, army chief general Moeen U Ahmed has ordered a strong military presence ahead of the elections.