Bangladesh announces schedule for December polls

November 3rd, 2008 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Nov 2 (DPA) Bangladesh’s election authorities Sunday formally announced detailed timetable for its stalled parliamentary election, keeping Dec 18 as the voting date.Announcing the election schedule, Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M. Shamsul Huda in a televised address assured voters of adequate security for a free and fair election.

He requested all candidates participating in the parliamentary election to maintain a peaceful atmosphere “through being imbibed by the democratic ethos and showing respect to each other”.

He called upon the voters to exercise their right to franchise without fear.

Huda also announced election dates for local Upazila (sub-districts) to be held 10 days after the parliamentary polls Dec 28, instead of the previously staggered polls Dec 24 and 28.

There has been no announcement, however, on whether the state of emergency would be lifted as demanded by the major political parties.

Facing mounting pressure from the parties, Bangladesh’s chief adviser to the interim administration, Fakhruddin Ahmed, in September had fixed Dec 18 as voting day.

The election was originally scheduled for Jan 22, 2007, but it was suspended after the military-backed government assumed power in early January 2007 in the wake of political violence.

According to the fresh election schedule, the last date for submission of nomination papers for the parliamentary polls is Nov 13 while the last date for withdrawal of candidature is Nov 24.

Huda, who initiated a number of electoral reforms including mandatory political parties for a credible election, urged all officials involved in conducting the elections to discharge their responsibilities with full neutrality and efficiency.

He said the aim of the registration was not to control the political parties but to lay out a framework for work between the Election Commission and the political parties.

Bangladesh registered a total of 81,130,973 voters with photographs across the country for the upcoming elections for a transition to democracy after two-years of a military-backed emergency regime.

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