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August 01, 2013

Bangladesh Court Bars Islamist Party from Polls

by VOA News

A Bangladesh court has barred the country's main Islamic party from participating in next year's general election, declaring that its charter conflicts with the country's secular constitution.

Thursday's ruling by the Dhaka High Court follows a long-running petition that sought to cancel the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party on grounds that it calls for Islamic law.

Jamaat's lawyer said the party would appeal the verdict, as party activists took to the streets in several parts of the country to protest the decision.

"We think that the Honorable High Court has opened a Pandora's box by giving the verdict to cancel the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami," he said. "We believe that this is a challenge to state's democracy and rule of law."

Jamaat has been a member of several coalition governments. The party has been accused of colluding with the Pakistani army during Bangladesh's 1971 war for independence. Six party leaders have been sentenced for war crimes since January, while others remain on trial.

Bangladesh fought a nine-month war against Pakistan in 1971 to obtain its independence. The government says three million people died in the violence, although other estimates put the death toll lower.