Bangladesh parties work overtime to finalise candidates

December 8th, 2008 - 12:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 8 (IANS) Political party officials within the two major alliances are working overtime to complete the selection of candidates for the ninth general election as the campaign kicks off later this week.Media reports Monday indicated persisting differences among the alliance partners, some of whom have made unilateral announcements of their lists. The election is Dec 29.

While Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party, announced 50 candidates against 31 conceded by senior partner Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), former military ruler H.M. Ershad’s Jatiya Party, which is part of the alliance led by Sheikh Hasina, announced 47 candidates.

The last-minute efforts continue till Eid-ul-Zuha, the three-day religious festival that begins Tuesday.

Both Hasina and her political rival Khaleda Zia, plan to begin their campaign after visiting Sylhet in north-eastern Bangladesh, where they will pay obeisance at the shrines of Hazrat Shah Jalal and Hazrat Shah Paran.

Hasina will be there Thursday, followed by Zia a day later.

Both may launch their respective campaigns on way back from Sylhet, New Age newspaper said Monday.

Friday is the day both will separately unveil their party manifestos in national capital Dhaka.

The poll strategists in both the parties are busy in preparing separate tour plans for two weeks for the top leaders who will criss-cross the riverine terrain covering most of the 300 constituencies.

Speaker Jamiruddin Sarkar of the eighth Jatiya Sangsad (national assembly) and his deputy Akhtar Hamid Siddiqui have been asked by the Election Commission not to use their official vehicles or avail of government machinery during their campaign.

The commission issued a letter in response to a letter it received from the speaker Dec 2.

The letter answering the speaker’s queries says that candidates irrespective of constitutional or government status are bound to adhere to the electoral code of conduct.

According to the code, after announcement of election schedule, political parties or their candidates and independent contestants cannot use government transport or facilities and cannot engage government employees in electioneering.

Election was called off in January last year after weeks of turmoil and boycott by Hasina and her allies.

A military-backed caretaker government in office for the last 23 months has committed to the Supreme Court that it would hold a credible poll.

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