[JURIST] Bangladeshi President and head of the military backed interim government Iajuddin Ahmed [official profile] on Monday signed the Emergency Powers (Repeal) Ordinance 2008, lifting a two-year state of emergency in order to prepare for December 29 parliamentary elections. The state of emergency, declared in January 2007 [JURIST report], suspended democratic rights throughout the country. The Ordinance, which takes effect Wednesday, will enable candidates to conduct their campaigns. The signing was announced on Tuesday, and coincides with the sixteenth anniversary of Bangladeshi independence. Last week, the clauses of the Emergency Powers rule governing meetings and rallies were lifted to facilitate campaigning. Foreign diplomats have asked the government to provide them with better security [BDNews24 report] in the wake of the emergency rule being lifted.
In November, the emergency rule was briefly lifted, but was reinstated [JURIST report] after violent protests when political party leaders from Jamaat-e-Islami [party website] party were arrested on alleged corruption charges in relation to a coal mining contract. Elections were originally scheduled for December 18, but as a result of pressure that included threats to boycott the polls from the major political alliances Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party [party websites], led by former prime ministers Sheikh Hasina [CWWL profile] and Khaleda Zia [UN profile], respectively, they were rescheduled for the current December 29 date.