Bangladesh lifts restriction on political rallies

Dhaka, June 4 (IANS) The Bangladeshi government Tuesday lifted restriction on political rallies and meetings but reiterated commitment to continuing a life ban for terrorists and extremists to holding any such events.

Bangladeshi State Minister for Home Affairs Shamsul Hoque Tuku made the announcement at a media briefing here Tuesday.

He said: “Peaceful rallies and meetings will be continued in accordance with the constitution.”

But the minister added “the restriction on rallies and meetings organised by terrorists and extremists will remain in place for life”.

Bangladesh government May 19 banned political rallies for one month, a step that opposition described as an attempt to mute dissenting voices, reported Xinhua.

In the seaport city of Chittagong, some 240 km southeast of capital Dhaka, Home Minister M.K. Alamgir gave the announcement while showing the incidents of deadly violence in the recent months as reasons behind the decision to ban rallies and meetings.

Violence that erupted May 5 and continued until the next day left dozens of people dead and hundreds injured.

Demanding a non-party caretaker government system to oversee the next general elections slated for early 2014, unconditional release of leaders and protesting the ban on rallies for one month, former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s 18-party opposition alliance May 26 enforced a countrywide general strike.

As the outgoing government hands over their power, the caretaker government comes into place and its main objective is to ensure an election can be held in a free and fair manner without any political influence of the outgoing government.

Since 1996, in the South Asian country, which has a history of frequent electoral fraud and violence, the caretaker government has held elections in 1996, 2001 and 2008.

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