Bangladesh parties accept new poll dates, want emergency lifted


Dhaka : The two major political alliances of Bangladesh led by the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) respectively have accepted the revised schedule for the elections due Dec 29. However, they are urging the government to lift the curbs imposed under emergency.

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The military-backed government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed is learnt to have accepted a plea from the Election Commission to lift the curbs by Dec 12, a fortnight before the poll, as per media reports, but a formal decision has not been announced.

The government and the Election Commission are “passing the buck at each other”, New Age newspaper said Tuesday.

Lifting of emergency curbs and fears that elections might be “engineered” form the crux of the campaign by rival alliances.

Both the Awami League of Sheikh Hasina and the Khaleda Zia-led BNP are one on the question of lifting the emergency, but have differing emphases on related issues.

The Awami League asked the government and the Election Commission to cancel the schedule for the upazila (sub-district) elections, while the BNP wants the revocation of the recently introduced Article 91(E) of the Representation of the People Order, 2008, which empowers the commission to cancel candidature at any level of polls on ground of violation of the electoral code of conduct.

Zia’s camp has begun hunting candidates rejected by the rival Awami League and pardoning those who were either rebels or government-backed ‘reformists’ as many of their former lawmakers are still in jail, The Daily Star said Tuesday.

Security has been stepped up at Hasina’s residence, Sudha Sadan, as supporters who have not got the party nomination have been holding protests in the area for the last several days, the newspaper said.

In a typical poll-time rhetoric, Hasina said she feared “election engineering” in the upcoming polls and asked all to remain vigilant to foil such an attempt.

“We launched the movement for holding a free and fair election, but despite that we do not know whether election engineering will take place or the election result will be changed. Doubts are yet to be removed completely,” she was quoted by The Daily Star Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Zia is all set to register herself as a voter to be able to contest. She had refused to register herself while in jail for a year on graft charges, New Age newspaper said.