Major parties reject Dhaka regime’s civic poll plans

June 21st, 2008 - 4:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 21 (IANS) Major parties in Bangladesh, insisting on early parliamentary elections, may stay away from the civic polls announced for Aug 4 by the military-backed caretaker regime. The poll schedule announced Friday may add to the ongoing confrontation between the government of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed and the political parties, according to media reports Saturday.

It may adversely affect the ongoing political dialogue in preparation for the parliamentary polls the government has promised for December, political analysts said.

Major parties say the caretaker government has overstepped its constitutional limits in that its task is only to hold free, fair and credible parliamentary elections.

The Election Commission announced time table for polls to four city corporations and nine municipalities, while the caretaker government relaxed the Emergency Powers Rules (EPR) in these areas, allowing campaign processions and rallies.

Asked about the majority of political parties’ opposition to holding local government elections before the parliamentary poll, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A.T.M. Shamsul Huda said the commission would not do anything that might hamper holding of the stalled ninth parliamentary poll, The Daily Star newspaper said.

The Awami League (AL), the country’s oldest party, called it “farcical” and “conspiratorial”.

“If you cannot paste a poster, bring out a procession, chant a slogan, how come elections could be held? Democracy cannot sustain without proper communication between politicians and voters,” said AL’s acting chief, Mohammed Zillur Rahman.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) rejected outright the EC announcement and insisted that the parliamentary polls promised for December be advanced.

The Jamaat-e-Islami has also said it would not participate.

Only the Jatiya Party of former military ruler H.M. Ershad, favourably disposed towards the interim government, welcomed it, saying it would participate.

According to the poll schedule published in an official gazette, the last date for submitting applications for candidacy is July 3, while July 6 and 7 are scheduled for scrutinising the applications, and the last date for withdrawing nominations is July 13.

General elections were called off amidst political turmoil in January last year and the country has been under a national emergency when curbs on political activity were enforced.

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