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Bangladesh ban on politics might stay past 120 days

The state of national emergency and the ban on political activity may be prolonged beyond the 120-day period stipulated in the constitution.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Dhaka
UPDATED ON APR 30, 2007 07:04 PM IST

The state of national emergency and the ban on political activity -even indoors may be prolonged in Bangladesh beyond the 120-day period stipulated in the constitution that ends on May 11.
The chances of the two being revoked are "slim, in the light of the prevailing situation", said local media.

President Iajuddin Ahmed had declared a state of emergency on January 11 suspending the Jan 22 parliamentary election and the government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, banned all outdoor political activities a couple of days later. On March 7, it also banned indoor politics.

While the media and legal experts speculate, the government is not making any pronouncement.

"The people are not interested in whether the state of emergency will continue or not. They want a meaningful change through a free and fair election and the government is working for it," Law and Information Advisor Mainul Hosein said.

According to the constitution, a proclamation of emergency (a) may be revoked by a subsequent proclamation, (b) shall be laid before the parliament; and (c) shall cease to operate at the expiration of 120 days, unless before the expiration of that period it has been approved by a resolution of the parliament.

The constitution provides that if any such proclamation is issued at a time when the parliament stands dissolved or dissolution of the parliament takes place during the period of 120 days of the emergency as referred to in sub-clause (c), the proclamation shall cease to operate at the expiration of 30 days from the date on which the parliament first meets after its re-constitution, unless before the expiration of that period of 30 days a resolution approving the proclamation has been passed by the parliament.

In the absence of a parliament, many are questioning whether the state of emergency will be automatically lifted after May 11 or the president will extend it through another proclamation.

Some legal experts termed the prevailing situation as unique and suggested that the matter should be sent to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for explanation.

Hosein, however, said the constitutional provision was not applicable to the present situation since no parliament exists.

"We don't see any constitutional problem as there is no parliament. Now it depends on the government whether the state of emergency will be continued or not," he said.

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