Everything possible done for fair polls: Bangladesh

November 16th, 2008 - 1:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Nov 16 (IANS) Everything possible has been done to create a level playing field and hold fair polls Dec 18, Bangladesh’s caretaker government has said in a clear message to recalcitrant former premier Khaleda Zia and her Islamist allies.The Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has been pressing the military-backed government to meet its seven-point charter of demands for, what the party says, creating a level playing field. The demands include lifting of the state of emergency for the election.

After days of backroom parleys and persuasion, the government Saturday said that it might consider further relaxation of curbs under the state of emergency once the extended deadline for submitting nomination papers ends Nov 20.

Commerce Advisor (minister) in the caretaker government, Hossain Zillur Rahman, who is the key interlocutor with the political parties, had earlier indicated complete lifting of emergency, provided the atmosphere was “conducive” for peaceful polls.

In his written statement, Rahman claimed that most of the demands had been met and an atmosphere was created “for a free, fair and credible election”.

With “everything possible” done to create a level playing field, “the entire nation is now ready for the democratic transition through the Dec 18 elections to be participated by all the parties”, Rahman was quoted as saying in the New Age Sunday.

BNP and its allies, Jamaat-e-Islami and a grouping of three more Islamist parties calling itself Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ), rejected the government contention.

BNP secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain termed it “a very irresponsible statement from a responsible minister”.

While BNP and allies have threatened a boycott, their rival, Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League and an alliance of 13 other parties, have insisted on the Dec 18 schedule.

Hasina also believes that her rivals will eventually join the poll fray.

“There is no option but holding the elections to fish out the country from the existing political and social crises and I believe the national elections will be held on Dec 18 and all the political parties will contest the polls,” Hasina was quoted as saying by the party’s joint general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam.

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