Dhaka, Nov 4: The party of former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina today demanded an end to emergency rule and the release of its leader to ensure a fair national election, expected sometime next year. Hasina is among scores of politicians arrested in a crackdown launched by the country's army-backed interim administration as part of its campaign against corruption.
''We don't believe that a free and fair election is possible with our leader Sheikh Hasina, chief of the country's biggest party, behind the bars,'' acting party chief Zillur Zillur said after a meeting with the election commission.
The party also sought the lifting of emergency rules imposed by the interim government after it took over in January pledging to hold parliamentary elections by the end of next year.
The election commission has been holding talks with various political parties as part of poll preparations.
An Awami League official quoted the Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M. Shamsul Huda as saying that the state of emergency would have to be lifted for the election to be held.
The election commission will also soon invite one of the two factions of the now divided Bangladesh Nationalist party, led by another jailed ex-premier Begum Khaleda Zia, to discuss its election plans.
Besides the two former premiers, more than 170 other key politicians including dozens of former ministers have been detained in the countrywide anti-corruption drive.