Uncertainties may delay Bangladesh poll schedule announcement

October 31st, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 31 (IANS) Political, procedural and legal uncertainties may delay the announcement of a timetable for the parliamentary elections in Bangladesh, but the Election Commission insists the polling date, Dec 18, shall remain unchanged. “The announcement of the poll schedule will be delayed, but the polling date will remain unchanged. The schedule cannot be announced until the legal wrangle over the fresh demarcation of electoral constituencies is resolved,” Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M. Shamsul Huda was quoted as saying in the New Age newspaper Friday.

Huda Thursday sought to underline the road blocks at a meeting with Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, who heads the country’s military-backed caretaker government.

“We have informed the chief adviser that we cannot announce the polls schedule on Nov 2 because of legal complexities,” he said.

The announcement should be made by Nov 2, as per the election law.

Huda told reporters that the schedule would be announced without completing the process of registration of political parties as there was no cut-off date for party registration.

While mainstream parties have fallen in line, some political parties have been resisting filing their registration documents under the amended Representation of Peoples Act.

The political uncertainties include the rejection of Awami League president Sheikh Hasina’s bail plea by the Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in one of the many graft cases against her.

Heading a five-member bench, Chief Justice M.M. Ruhul Amin said that Hasina, who is on parole and abroad for medical treatment, could not be granted bail.

“Hasina sought bail on medical grounds, but she failed to submit her current health report to the court. Her medical report dated March 11 was not satisfactory to the court,” said additional attorney general Mansur Habib.

The government had opposed Hasina’s bail plea.

Hasina’s counsel Shafique Ahmed said the ruling was “unexpected”.

“The court is granting bail to convicts, but our appeal has been rejected,” he said.

Awami League presidium member Tofail Ahmed said the parliamentary polls must be held on Dec 18 as there was no alternative to election if the nation was to return to democracy.

“The country will face deep political and economic crises if national elections are not held in time,” he warned.

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