Dhaka may hold polls under emergency curbs

August 5th, 2008 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Aug 5 (IANS) The parliamentary polls in Bangladesh scheduled for December may be held without lifting the curbs imposed under a national emergency, going by the largely trouble-free civic polls held Monday that saw the Awami League emerge victorious. Holding an election under the national emergency was “no longer an issue”, Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M Shamsul Huda was quoted as saying.

Media reports quoted some advisers (ministers) of the military-backed interim government as saying that the December parliamentary polls could also be held without lifting the emergency. The advisers were not identified.

According to political analysts, Monday’s polls had definitely strengthened the military-backed administration’s case for holding polls under the state of emergency, The Daily Star said Tuesday.

In the civic polls, Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League left behind rivals, winning mayorship in all four municipal corporations and eight of the nine municipalities in smaller cities.

The Awami League candidates bagged the major cities of Sylhet, Khulna, Rajshahi and Barisal. Its principal rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia, bagged the remaining single municipality.

The newly-elected municipal mayors are Golam Kibria in Fulbaria of Mymensingh district, Anisur Rahman in Sreepur of Gazipur district, Reazul Islam Joarder in Chuadanga of Chuadanga district, Nayek Shafiul Alam Shafi in Sitakunda of Chittagong, Zakaria Ahmed Pablu in Golapganj of Sylhet, Abdur Rab Munshi in Shariatpur of Shariatpur district, Ramzan Ali in Manikganj of Manikganj district and Abdul Gafur in Naohata of Rajshahi. All of them are affiliated to Awami League.

Only Jahangir Alam backed by BNP won the Dhupchachiya municipality of Bogra.

This was Bangladesh’s first election since the imposition of a national emergency in January last year.

Observers like the Election Working Group (EWG), Fair Election Monitoring Alliance (FEMA), Janipop, Brotee and Bangladesh Human Rights Commission said the polls were held in a largely peaceful, credible, impartial and free atmosphere.

The caretaker government of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed had only partially lifted the curbs, facilitating a short period of door-to-door campaigning, meetings and processions for the civic polls.

The government sees the just-concluded poll as preparatory to the parliament polls.

Prior to that, it plans to hold elections to upzilla (sub-district) councils, which too is being opposed by political parties that are demanding early parliamentary polls and return to democracy.

The Awami League scored its wins on the basis of an early campaign after its chief, former prime minister Hasina, struck what was perceived as a political deal with the government that facilitated her brief eight-week release for seeking medical treatment in the US.

Hasina is due to be back this month and may return to jail, resuming her court battles in several graft cases.

Her rival Zia has remained in jail and was late in permitting her party cadres to contest and campaign for the civic polls.

The Jatiya Party of former President H.M. Ershad also contested the polls, which were boycotted by some parties including the Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party.

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