Bangladesh president declares state of emergency as controversial election looms

[JURIST] The President of Bangladesh [JURIST news archive] declared a state of emergency in the troubled country Thursday in the face of violent political protests and a 19-party alliance threatening to blockade voting places before the scheduled January 22 elections. National authorities imposed a curfew on 60 cities and towns and ordered television stations to air state-produced emergency bulletins rather than regular programming. Part IXA of the Bangladesh Constitution [text] authorizes the President to issue a Proclamation of Emergency "...[i]f a grave emergency exists in which the security or economic life of Bangladesh, or any part thereof, is threatened by war or external aggression or internal disturbance..." When a state of emergency exists, the Constitution allows the President to make executive orders that suspend, among other constitutional rights: freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom from occupation, and the right to property.

The protesters want to delay the elections until alleged flaws are corrected, which include fake names on voter lists, transparent ballot boxes, and biased election officials. Iajuddin Ahmed [Wikipedia profile] also said Friday that he was stepping down as the head of the country's interim government and was appointing former Justice Fazlul Haque to replace him pending the outcome of the elections. The Bangladeshi constitution requires a caretaker government be named 90 days before a national poll. Violence between the main political parties in the country has resulted in at least 34 deaths since October. Reuters has more. AP has additional coverage.

 

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