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Bangladesh to hold general elections despite boycott
Dhaka | January 04, 2007 2:15:01 PM IST
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The Election Commission said Thursday it will hold this month's general elections in spite of a planned boycott of the polls by a key political alliance.

" The elections will be held on schedule. We are going ahead with preparations for the polls,'' Mahfuzur Rahman, a top Election Commission official, told reporters.

The elections are slated for January 22.

Bangladesh's major political alliance led-by Sheikh Hasina's Awami League Party (ANP) today announced that it would not take part in this month's general elections, scheduled for January 22, citing "lack of environment for fair polls".

"Election under President Iajuddin Ahmed cannot be impartial. We cannot give legitimacy to an election with illegal voters roll..." said Sheikh Hasina, the chief of the alliance at a press conference held at Sheraton Hotel.

She also called upon her alliance partners to resist the elections, asking the authorities to announce a fresh schedule after ensuring a correct voters list, level playing filed for all the contesting parties, and resignation of President Iajuddin Ahmed from the position of chief of the caretaker administration.

Following the directions from the central leadership, the alliance candidates who had filed nomination papers earlier to vie for the election, started withdrawing their candidature today, the last date for withdrawal of the nomination papers.

Sheikh Hasina said that her party and the alliance was "very eager" to take part in the elections, but the Iajuddin's administration, which according to her, is being dictated by the earlier Khaleda Zia government, "compelled us to boycott it".

"We had filed nomination papers for the sake of democracy, and for the interest of people, but Iajuddin failed to play his part rightly," regretted Hasian at the press conference attended by most of the alliance leaders, including two former presidents - Hussein Muhammad Ershad and AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury.

The government or the immediate past ruling alliance, however, gave no instant reaction on the AL-led alliance's decision of boycott. Earlier, they said that the government would go according to the country's constitution that stipulates to complete holding of the election in 90 days after the caretaker administration takes over.

Earlier, during the past week Hasian's alliance had announced a two-day nationwide transport blockade programme, beginning on January 7, to press home their demand for a proper election environment.

The alliance observed that the interim caretaker administration headed by President Iajuddin Ahmed "has failed to ensure an atmosphere conducive for free and fair election".

"The elections are not far away, and the Bangladesh Election Commission failed to prepare a correct voter lists," said Hasina while demanding a fresh election schedule.

"It is more important to ensure that the voters can exercise their right that holding election within 90 days," she added.

The election commission had validated more than 3800 nomination papers after scrutiny on December 26. (ANI)

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