UK backs lifting of emergency by degrees
Saturday, 02 August 2008

British minister for local government, Hazel Blears, speaks at a press conference at the UK High Commission office Friday.Visiting minister informs

Staff Correspondent

British minister for local government Hazel Blears said Friday that the UK supports the government's decision to lift the emergency by degrees ahead of the national election to ensure both safe and credible polls.

Speaking at a press briefing at the British High Commissioner's residence, the local government minister declined to comment on the controversy over holding local polls ahead of the national.

"It is a matter for the government when the local elections should be held," she said.

However, she told reporters, she had discussed with the chief adviser ways to strengthen local government so that it can be more responsive to ordinary people.

During her visit to Bangladesh, the UK's secretary of state for communities and local government met chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed and home affairs adviser MA Matin.

She said the meeting with Matin centred on "tackling terrorism".

Replying to queries from reporters, Blears said: "I think there is a high degree of commitment (by the government) to hold elections in time."

On lifting the state of emergency gradually ahead of the general election, she said her government supported the move.

"It may be necessary to do that as the issue is ensuring safety and the same time holding free, fair and credible polls," she said at a.

In a statement by the British High Commission, Blears said the UK government also encourages the next elected government to embrace the positive reforms that have been achieved.

"To be sustainable any democracy needs strong institutions. Individuals may come and go but the systems and institutions remain," the visiting minister said.

Blears' visit to Bangladesh is the fifth by a UK minister in the last seven months.

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