Bangladeshi political parties reject local elections
Major political parties in Bangladesh turned down Saturday the offer of local government polls by the military backed interim regime ruling the country for more than a year, officials said.
Local elections were announced for August 4 in four cities and nine towns by Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda ahead of a general election which is expected to return the populous South Asian country to democratic rule, the dpa reported.
The two major political groups, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), have called for outright cancellation of the non-party local polls, claiming they can disrupt the crucial parliamentary vote.
In a sharp reaction to the official move to hold the mayoral polls before the national elections the Awami League's acting secretary general Ashraful Islam said a conspiracy was on to sabotage the democratic movement in the country.
"The holding of local polls before the general election is a violation of the constitution," the BNP's top leader Delwar Hussian said.
Other political leaders and analysts warned against destabilization and the breakdown of law and order if the local polls were held without considering the demands of the opposition groups.
The caretaker government has promised to withdraw the state of emergency promulgated by President Iajuddin Ahmad to contain political turmoil more than a year ago.
Iajuddin appointed an interim administration supported by the army in January 2007 at the height of political violence which left scores dead.
The street unrest was triggered by a standoff between two former premiers Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, both of whom face trial on corruption charges involving millions of dollars which were siphoned off in the poor country.
The authorities have also promised to relax the emergency rule for three weeks in August for the local polls.