Ten days before Bangladesh elections, 21 join poll fray

December 19th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 19 (IANS) With only 10 days to go for the Bangladesh elections, 21 candidates who had been debarred have been cleared by the apex court to contest, prompting the chief election commissioner to sarcastically comment that they could deal with the last minute complications as they were “supermen”.The court order Thursday “might hamper the electoral process as preparations including printing of ballot papers are at the final stage”, The Daily Star newspaper said Friday quoting unnamed Election Commission officials.

“It signifies the predicament the EC finds itself in for more and more of the discarded contestants getting SC rulings in their favour,” the newspaper observed.

“A visibly frustrated” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A.T.M. Shamsul Huda told reporters: “We’ll keep accepting candidacy till the day before election”.

He said that if the court thinks “we can correct and print ballot papers even till the day before the polls, we will do so; we’ll have to do so”.

Asked how they would allocate electoral symbols, he said sarcastically: “We can do that as well. We have magical powers, we are supermen.”

The returning officers (RO) who completed allocation of electoral symbols on Dec 12 will now have to assign symbols to the 21.

The Election Commission will have to get rid of ballot papers if printed for any constituencies of the latest entrants and print new ones.

Amongst those whose electoral bids have been ruled valid after the final list of candidates was published on Dec 14, six are from the Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), three from the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League and two from former military ruler H.M. Ershad’s Jatiya Party. The rest are independents.

Most of them had been screened out by the Election Commission for convictions and defaulting on loans or utility service bills.

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