Uncertainty over Bangladesh poll dates persists


Dhaka : Pressure tactics by the former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance have made holding of the delayed ninth general election in Bangladesh on schedule uncertain.

Support TwoCircles

While Zia and her Islamist allies want a two-month deferment of the polls, the military-backed caretaker government Sunday indicated that it could relax the time-table of the Dec 18 poll by a few days, but not longer than that. It also wants a firm commitment from the BNP that they would participate without further preconditions.

According to sources, the BNP leadership already gave a proposal to the authorities for deferring the election by two or three months, but such a long postponement seems very unlikely.

Meanwhile, the Awami League-led alliance seems all set to contest the polls, which, it insisted, must be held on Dec 18. But the BNP-led alliance is still pressuring the government and the Election Commission to implement its seven-point demand before it agrees to participate.

The BNP and its major ally, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, are likely to decide in a day or two on whether they will file nominations on Nov 20 for the polls or formally ask the government and the commission to revise the election schedule, New Age newspaper said Monday.

The government of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed has committed before the Supreme Court and to the donor nations that it would hold a credible, all-in poll this year.

Poll boycott by parties and alliances fearing adverse popular verdict or because they could be ‘managed’ by military and civil bureaucracy is not uncommon in Bangladesh, political analysts point out.

Zia had boycotted elections in 1986 and her rival Sheikh Hasina did so in 2006.

However, the parties intending to boycott have made contingency plans, selecting candidates and preparing for the campaign till the last minute. Zia and her allies, still discussing whether to contest or boycott the poll are doing that, The Daily Star said.

Although leaders of BNP’s allies, Jamat-e-Islami and Islami Oikyo Jote (IOJ) said they will refrain from participating in the Dec 18 poll, if the alliance finally decides to boycott it, they however already collected nomination forms, which must be submitted by Nov 20, if they are to contest in the election on Dec 18, it added.