Jamaat, BNP fall in line as Bangladesh prepares for polls

October 10th, 2008 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 10 (IANS) After resisting new election law requirements, both the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), have fallen in line and are ready to talk to the government as the country prepares for the December polls. The BNP, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, and JeI, the country’s largest Islamist party, had been opposing registration of their parties’ names, along with account books as per the new rules.

The Election Commission and the military-backed caretaker government have relaxed the requirements a bit by seeking details of the parties in their present form and asking that they hold elections and ratify them within the next six months.

In a major shift in their stance, the JeI announced Thursday that it may amend its party constitution to meet the new requirement and the BNP prepared to talk to the government on Sunday, The Daily Star said Friday.

JeI’s Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami said: “We will not give anyone the chance to leave us out of election on technical grounds. We have amended our constitution several times before, and will do it again if need be.”

Their principal rival Awami League, meanwhile, prepares to begin the thorny issue of seat-sharing with 15 poll partners.

The partners are unhappy with the new entrant into the alliance, former military ruler H.M. Ershad, whom they had fought during 1982-90.

But Ershad has been admitted by alliance chief and former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who is looking to broad-base her alliance.

Ershad said Thursday his Jatiyo Party would contest 20 seats, mostly in northern Bangladesh, in Rangpur, Dinajpur, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat and Nilphamari regions.

Hasina had earned the wrath of her allies last November when she reached an electoral understanding with the Islamist Khelafat Andolan.

The elections originally slated for January 2007 were called off amidst political turmoil.

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