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Polls 'on time', emergency stays

world Updated: Nov 15, 2007 09:45 IST

Bangladesh's interim government has reiterated that it will hold general elections by December 2008, but maintains that the emergency in force since January 2007 will stay.

It will be lifted "when a congenial atmosphere prevails in the country", Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed told reporters.

Heading an un-elected government that was meant to hold elections within 90 days and quit, Ahmed cited the constitution to claim that the government could continue till the elections are held.

General elections were called off amid political turmoil in January and a national emergency was declared. The government has since stonewalled demands from political parties at home and appeals by foreign governments and human rights bodies to advance the poll timetable.

"The election train has started moving and it'll gradually gain speed. We are moving forward to establish good governance and make strong the foundation of democracy in Bangladesh," Ahmed told media persons Wednesday.

The chief advisor made it clear that holding trials of "war criminals" -- those who allegedly collaborated with the Pakistani authorities prior to Bangladesh's liberation in 1971 -- was not a priority for his government.

"Time for the government is running out ... If this important task is taken up, the dimension of work will be expanded, hampering other important due tasks," Ahmed was quoted as saying by the Daily Star on Thursday.

"This government has come to power with a limited target for a limited time to hold a free, fair and acceptable election. I think it should not delay and impede the main goal," he said.