Bangladesh sticks to December 18 election date
Bangladesh's military-backed government announced Wednesday it would hold December elections according to the announced schedules, despite the demands of a leading party not being met, dpa reported.
The announcement came an hour before the expiry of a deadline set by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of former prime minister Khaleda Zia, which had demanded the government delay the poll and allow her party to join.
The parliamentary and upazila (local council) elections would be held according to the previously announced schedule "as there had been no consensus between the political alliances ... (and the) government despite ... all our effort," said Hossain Zillur Rahman, a key adviser to the interim government.
The Election Commission has fixed balloting dates for parliamentary polls on December 18 and for local councils on December 28.
The BNP-led alliance condemned the decision, saying the military- backed government was trying to implement a "blue-print" to hold "a one-sided election" under the state of emergency.
"It has been trying to keep us out of the electoral race to install a rubber-stamp parliament and establish a puppet government," said BNP Secretary General Khaldaker Delwar Hossain.
He called on the authorities to implement a four-point charter of demands to hold an acceptable polls with participation of all parties.
The Election Commission later Wednesday extended the timeline for filing candidatures by a further three days until November 23, keeping the voting date unchanged.
Khaleda Zia had demanded the complete lifting of the state of emergency, deferral of voting dates of both parliamentary and local government polls, and voting by Muslim pilgrims who might not be in Bangladesh during the polls.
The government relaxed provisions of its emergency rule to allow limited electioneering by the parties and candidates for the general election.
On Tuesday the European Union announced that it will send observers to monitor Bangladesh's general election, after concluding that an atmosphere for "a free, fair and credible election" had been created.