Emergency ceases on December 17
The state of emergency, imposed in the country on January 11, 2007, will be withdrawn on December 17, the caretaker government announced Wednesday night.
"The government has decided to lift the state of emergency from December 17 with the approval of the president," Commerce Adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman said reading out an announcement during a press briefing at the PID conference room.
He also said restrictions on rallies and processions would be withdrawn from today to facilitate campaign for the parliamentary elections scheduled for December 29.
The government's spokesman said the election campaigns must be conducted following the Code of Conduct, 2008, issued by the Election Commission (EC) for political parties and candidates.
The announcement came a day before the deadline for withdrawal of candidature for the parliamentary elections expires. Seemingly, it was a response to the BNP-led four-party alliance's 48-hour deadline issued Monday to meet their two remaining demands, lifting of the emergency and suspension of the EC's power to cancel candidacy in the elections.
BNP and its allies, following an alliance meeting chaired by BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia later Wednesday night, welcomed the government's announcement terming it "a victory for the four-party and the people".
BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain told reporters after the meeting, "We hope that people will now be able to participate in the upcoming elections in a festive and joyful mood."
All major political parties including the BNP-led alliance have been demanding the lifting of the emergency before the elections.
The Fakhruddin Ahmed-led interim administration relaxed a number of provisions of the state of emergency earlier this year. Several advisers had been saying over the last few months that the emergency would be lifted in a "reasonable time" but they did not come up with any specific date.
Earlier, the EC during a meeting with the chief adviser at his office suggested that the emergency be lifted from December 12 on expiry of the deadline for withdrawing candidacy for the national polls.
In August this year, the interim government held elections to the local government bodies under the state of emergency. Later, it termed the elections very successful as they were violence-free and without any major incident of vote rigging.
President Iajuddin Ahmed promulgated the state of emergency on January 11, 2007, to quell political violence over the abortive parliament elections originally scheduled for January 22, 2007.