US hopes for repeal of state of emergency before B'desh polls

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Dhaka, Sep 21 (UNI) The US today expressed hope that conditions in Bangladesh would allow total repeal of the state of Emergency prior to general elections set for December 18.

Military-backed caretaker government Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, in a nationwide address, yesterday announced the election date but did not specifically say whether or not the Emergency would be fully lifted before the polls.

In a reaction over the Chief Adviser's speech, Washington welcomed his announcement of the date for the parliamentary elections before the end of this year.

''We look forward to seeing free, fair and credible elections this December,'' a spokesperson for the US Embassy here said.

Dr Ahmed, in his address, also announced the dates for local govrenment Upazila Parishad (Subdistrict Council) elections to be held in two phases -- on December 24 and 28.

Major political parties, including former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League and another ex-premier Khaleda Zia's BNP, opposed the holding of the Upazila Parishad polls within the seven days of parliamentary elections, saying it might create chaos in the country.

On local government elections, the US embassy said they were an important part of a democratic Bangladesh.

However, the spokesperson said the timing of these elections was a matter for the government of Bangladesh and its people to decide.

''We believe that the government, political parties, civil society and the media, all have important roles to play in ensuring free, fair and credible elections for the people of Bangladesh,'' the spokesperson said, adding, ''Compromise is an integral part of a healthy democracy.'' The spokesperson said they welcome the Chief Adviser's statement that the state of Emergency and Emergency Powers Rules would be relaxed or repealed to ensure conditions conducive to free, fair and credible elections.

''We share the hope of the people of Bangladesh that conditions in the country will allow the total repeal of the state of Emergency at some point prior to the elections,'' she said.

Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed promulgated the state of Emergency on January 11 last year to cool down political turmoil over the general elections originally set for January 22 the same year.

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