Bangladesh polls next year; dates by July 15


Dhaka : The general election in Bangladesh will be held next year and the Election Commission is set to announce its roadmap this month, ostensibly to convince critics abroad and to get political parties to join in a dialogue.

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Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda Saturday said a complete roadmap for holding the next parliamentary election with a specific timeframe for preparing a voter list with photographs and a date for announcing the election schedule would be made public by July 15.

"The election will be held in 2008. But we have yet to announce anything specific. We will announce a complete roadmap charting the path to the ninth parliamentary polls," the CEC told media at the conclusion of a pilot project for gathering field level experience in preparing a voter list with photographs and national identity cards.

The government is engaged in electoral reforms that include updating of the voter list and issuing of photo identity cards.

"We will specify the time required to complete the tasks including preparation of the voter list," Huda said.

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed later announced that the ninth parliamentary election will be held before the end of 2008.

Repeated appeals for announcement of a roadmap have been made by the US, Britain, the European Union and others in their interaction with the Ahmed-led interim government that took office on Jan 12.

With political activities banned, political parties are clamouring for lifting of the ban and early poll timetable. They have of late shown reluctance to join a dialogue with the government.

"The Awami League, the BNP and the Jatiyo Party have a point when they insist on a withdrawal of the ban prior to their participation in any dialogue with the Election Commission," Daily Star said Sunday in an editorial.

The CEC had on April 5 announced an 18-month timeframe for preparing the voter list with photographs and for completing other preparatory tasks for holding the stalled parliamentary election.