(CNN) -- Bangladesh lifted a two-year-old state of emergency on Wednesday, less than two weeks ahead of parliamentary elections.
A girl with the national flag painted on her cheek marks Victory Day in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Tuesday.
The order was issued Tuesday by President Iajuddin Ahmed, according to Shahenur Miah, a government spokesman. The announcement came on the 37th anniversary of the establishment of Bangladesh as a nation, known as Victory Day.
Parliamentary elections are scheduled for December 29.
To stem a tide of political violence, a military-backed government took control in January 2007 and imposed an indefinite state of emergency. It also postponed elections until it said it could clean up the country's graft-ridden politics.
The caretaker government adopted emergency powers that allowed authorities to arrest a person without a court warrant as long as there was reasonable suspicion that he or she was connected to a crime, Human Rights Watch said.
A wave of detentions followed. By some estimates, more than 90,000 people were detained before some were released and others charged with crimes.
Among those arrested were more than 150 top politicians, including the leaders of two prominent political parties, Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League and Khaleda Zia of the BNP.
Since the country's independence in 1971, the Awami League or the BNP has ruled Bangladesh for all but eight years. Both women have served as prime ministers at one point or another.
The most recent crackdown took place in June when police detained or arrested more than 18,000 people in 11 days and came after the two main political parties said they would not cooperate with the military-backed caretaker government on organizing the elections.
CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh contributed to this report.
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