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Bangladesh ends ban on indoor political activity

[JURIST] The Bangladeshi interim government lifted the complete ban on all indoor political activity Monday, ahead of scheduled voting reforms talks between the country's election commission [official website] and its political parties. The ban [JURIST report] was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in March 2007, extending the January 11 state of emergency [JURIST report] order by President Iajuddin Ahmed [official profile] which prohibited street protests and public gatherings but not "indoor political activities." Fakhruddin Ahmed [official profile], head of the military-backed interim government, said electoral reforms would only be introduced after talks with the political parties, and promised to try to hold elections before a December 2008 deadline.

The new interim government has arrested over 150 high-profile citizens since declaring a state of emergency over concerns that fraud would ruin scheduled national elections. Last week, Bangladeshi officials arrested [JURIST report] former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia [UN profile] and her son on corruption and misuse of power charges. Zia's rival, former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed [party profile; JURIST news archive] has also been charged by Bangladesh's anti-corruption commission [governing statute, PDF] with six counts of murder, corruption, and, most recently, bribery [JURIST reports]. The special courts set up by the interim government to try corrupt leaders have so far sentenced more than a dozen former officials and their families. AFP has more.

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