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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Top Bangladesh politician is held
Former Bangladeshi Law Minister, Moudud Ahmed
Mr Ahmed has a chequered political career
Police in Bangladesh say that they have arrested the influential politician and former Law Minister, Moudud Ahmed.

Mr Ahmed has not been charged and it is not clear why he has been arrested, but correspondents say that he has recently been accused of tax evasion.

The former minister is a close aide of the former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

The head of the military-backed caretaker government has meanwhile confirmed that general elections will be delayed until the end of 2008.

The caretaker government has launched a vigorous drive against corruption after its leader, Fakhruddin Ahmed imposed a state of emergency and cancelled national elections planned for 22 January.

More than 160 politicians, businessmen and former bureaucrats have been detained in the drive under the emergency powers.

The administration says that polling will not take place until its anti-corruption drive is concluded.

Accounts frozen

The arrest of Mr Ahmed at his home in Dhaka is the latest development is what has been a topsy-turvy political career.

Bangladeshis in January reading about the state of emergency
A state of emergency was declared in January

He is himself a former prime minister, and has had a chequered political career.

He served in the government of the military ruler, General Ershad and in the government of Khaleda Zia.

Correspondents say that the military-backed interim government froze the assets in his bank accounts last month while investigating possible tax evasion.

Mr Ahmed - who has been arrested before on charges of corruption - has denied the latest allegations and has appealed against the account freeze in the high court.

Black money

In a TV address late on Thursday, Mr Ahmed said that he hoped that elections before the end of 2008 would be fully free and honest.

"Steps have been taken so that criminals, terrorists and black money holders cannot participate in the elections and corrupt democracy," he said.

Mr Ahmed said the interim government would not stay in power a day longer than necessary.

Troops on patrol in Dhaka
The interim government is backed by the military

The announcement has been welcomed by the main opposition Awami League party.

"This is the first time the government announced a specific timeframe for elections. Of course we welcome this timeframe," Abdul Jalil, general secretary of the Awami League, was quoted by news agency AFP as saying.

Mr Jalil called on the government to lift the ban on political activities "so that we can discuss with the election commission the reforms and other poll-related issues".

Last week, Bangladesh's chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda said it would take at least 18 months before new elections could be called.

He said the delay was needed to allow time to prepare new voting lists and new electoral laws.




SEE ALSO
No B'desh polls 'for 18 months'
05 Apr 07 |  South Asia
B'desh democracy fails, army says
02 Apr 07 |  South Asia
Army chief lambasts politicians
27 Mar 07 |  South Asia
Khaleda Zia's son is refused bail
13 Mar 07 |  South Asia

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