"Recently it has been noticed that some political parties have been misusing the flexibility granted under the emergency rules," the home ministry said.


"They are trying to undermine the state of emergency by not strictly adhering to the provisions of the emergency," the statement said.

 

"So the government has decided to ban all political activities - both indoors and outdoors - with immediate effect."

 

Anti-corruption drive

 

The army-backed interim government, led by Fakhruddin Ahmed, says that no election can take place until the country's politics have been cleansed of corruption and critical reforms implemented to ensure a free and fair poll.

 

"Recently it has been noticed that some political parties have been misusing the flexibility granted under the emergency rules"

Bangladesh home ministry

Since Friday, political parties have closed almost all their offices across the country, witnesses said.

 

Hasina, who leads the Awami League, said she will use her "time off politics" to write books and memoirs.

 

Khaleda, leader of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Hasina's biggest rival, will spend her enforced leisure time at home, party officials say.

 

Tareque Rahman, Khaleda's son and apparent political heir, has been detained in the army-led clean-up, along with hundreds of other BNP and Awami politicians.

 

Former ministers are among those detained.

 

Elections are not expected to take place before late 2007, and the government insists it has much time-consuming work to complete before it can set a new election schedule.

 

Khaleda ended her five-year term as premier last October, handing power to a caretaker authority with the task of taking the nation through to national elections.

 

Suspicion

 

Polls originally set for January 22 had to be postponed after battles between BNP and Awami activists killed 45 people and injured hundreds.

 

Two months after the imposition of a state of emergency, the army's actions - which most Bangladeshis at first applauded - are now viewed with suspicion by the population.

 

In the name of rooting-out corruption, soldiers have demolished thousands of shops and homes around the country.

 

Many Bangladeshis question whether it the interim government has a mandate to conduct mass demolitions.

 

"I am virtually starving with my seven-member family after I was driven off the street," said Abdul Khaleq, a fruit vendor.

 

"I am not corrupt, did no crime," Khaleq said. "I just toil to make a meagre living by selling fruits. Why should they target me?"