Campaign colour in poll-bound Bangladesh

July 15th, 2008 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, July 15 (IANS) Processions, rallies and door-to-door campaigns… all the festivities associated with elections have returned to Bangladesh after 19 months of curbs in the run up to the civic polls Aug 4. Campaign for four municipal corporations and nine municipalities began in urban Bangladesh as soon as the Election Commission distributed poll symbols. Amidst the blaring of loudspeakers, printing presses began working to the full, producing posters and leaflets, the Daily Star said Tuesday.

This is Bangladesh’s first election since emergency was imposed Jan 11 last year by President Iajuddin Ahmed.

The military-backed caretaker government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed relaxed the Emergency Power Rules (EPR) imposed in January last year, when general elections were called off after months of political turmoil.

Ironically, the poll campaign began the day the emergency proclamation was challenged by a group of lawyers.

Supreme Court lawyers M. Saleem Ullah, Mohsen Rashid, Nahid Sultana Juthi and Abdul Mannan Khan Monday filed a writ petition challenging the legality of the declaration of the emergency, two emergency powers orders suspending fundamental rights, Emergency Powers Ordinance and the EPRs.

The high court bench of Justices Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Mashuq Hossain Ahmed was told that the president had declared the emergency “without any lawful authority”, New Age newspaper said.

The high court is to hear the government’s side on Tuesday.

A majority of political parties are contesting the polls, but they are pressing for early parliamentary polls that the government has promised for December.

While jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and a four party alliance are boycotting the civic election, the rival Awami League led 14-party alliance is participating.

The government is treating the polls, to be followed by elections to sub-district councils, with great caution and has deployed security forces in large numbers.

The relaxation of the EPR aimed at facilitating electioneering, however, has a caveat that the campaign processions and rallies will be allowed only within the electoral areas during the stipulated campaign period in line with already promulgated new rules and code of conduct for city corporation and municipality elections.

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