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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 17:36 GMT
Troops enforce Bangladesh order
Troops and people in Dhaka a day after the imposition of emergency
People returned to the streets after the overnight curfew ended
Soldiers are enforcing a state of emergency in Bangladesh, a day after it was imposed by the president.

President Iajuddin Ahmed also quit as interim leader and postponed a planned 22 January vote, saying it was "not possible" to hold it on schedule.

Former central bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed has been sworn in as the head of a new interim government.

The moves follow months of violent protests amid claims by a political alliance that the vote is being rigged.

Across the country the violence has left more than 40 people dead.

Following the lifting of an overnight curfew early on Friday morning, the streets of Dhaka are again full of traffic, correspondents say.

Concerns

The state of emergency has raised concerns in a country which has experienced periods of military rule and coup attempts since independence from Pakistan in 1971.

Under the emergency, some basic rights under the constitution, including freedom of movement, assembly and speech, are suspended.

And although the newspapers contain pictures of Mr Ahmed's late-night television address announcing the state of emergency, private media organisations have already been told to stop broadcasting news and current affairs programmes and newspapers warned not to criticise the government.

However, reports later on Friday said private TV channels were ignoring the ban.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Dhaka says nobody knows how long the state of emergency will remain.

President Iajuddin Ahmed
We need a flawless voter list to ensure that the elections are free, fair and credible
President Iajuddin Ahmed

Under the Bangladesh constitution the caretaker government must organise elections within 90 days - Thursday's developments take the country into uncertain and uncharted territory.

Dr Ahmed, the new leader, will appoint a new cabinet.

Many Bangladeshis said the president's decision could help end the political impasse in the country.

"We welcome the president's decision, but on condition," SM Fazlul Hoque, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told the Associated Press.

"Our stand is for democracy, we want the decision to help restore normalcy for a free and fair election in which all political camps can take part."

Dhaka resident Mahmudul Islam Apu said he was happy with the calm in the city after the imposition of emergency.

"Today, after a long time, I can walk freely and without tension in the city. Calm has come everywhere," the student told the AFP news agency.

'Victory for people'

The Awami League party has described the decision to postpone the elections as a "victory for the people" and said it has cancelled plans for street protests due on Sunday.

"By admitting that the voter list had errors, and quitting as head of the interim government, he [the president] has in fact accepted our main demands," opposition spokesman Abdul Jalil told the AFP news agency.

Protests in Dhaka
There have been weeks of violent protests over the vote
Amending the electoral register was a central demand, as was Mr Ahmed's removal as chief adviser to the caretaker government.

There as no immediate reaction from the rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which stepped down as the ruling party in October to pave the way for the caretaker government.

Mr Ahmed said on Thursday that he would stay on in his largely ceremonial post of president. Nine of 10 members of his caretaker administration are also reported to have resigned.

Change needed

Mr Ahmed did not specify a new general election date, but made clear there should be key changes before the vote is held.

"We need a flawless voter list to ensure that the elections are free, fair and credible."

The Awami League party and its allies announced last week they were boycotting the vote because they said it was not going to be fair.

The party has led mass demonstrations which have at times brought the country to a standstill in recent months. There have been violent clashes between police and supporters of rival political groupings.

The Awami League has long alleged electoral bias in favour of its bitter rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The BNP rejected the allegations of bias and had said it would take part in the vote.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
President Iajuddin Ahmed announces his resignation



SEE ALSO
Press concern at Bangladesh emergency
13 Jan 07 |  South Asia
Observers shun Bangladeshi vote
11 Jan 07 |  South Asia
Violent clashes at Dhaka protest
07 Jan 07 |  South Asia
Army to 'stop election violence'
04 Jan 07 |  South Asia
Back from the brink in Bangladesh
31 Oct 06 |  South Asia

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