Bangladesh general elections on December 18

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Dhaka, Sep 20 (UNI) Bangladesh goes to much awaited general elections on December 18 to elect the country's ninth Parliament and establish a new government after a lapse of two years.

Addressing the nation over the state-owned radio and television, military-backed caretaker government's Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed said that after assuming power 20 months ago, he had declared that his avowed aim was to handover power to a government through free, fair, neutral and acceptable election to a well established democracy.

''We've never ever deviated from this end,'' he said.

On political parties' persistent demand to lift the state of Emergency before the parliamentary polls, he stated categorically that his government would not hesitate or step back to do whatever was needed for holding free and fair elections.

''Our pledge and determination will be reflected in the light of the nation's aspirations,'' he said, assuring that the necessary rules and regulations of the state of Emergency would be relaxed or rescinded to facilitate the candidates taking necessary preparations and campaigning and the election be held in a lively atmosphere with spontaneous participation of all.

Dr Ahmed said the Election Commission (EC) was reconstituted, strengthened and made effective and a flawless voters' list was prepared, registering more than eight crore voters with their photos.

He said the EC was responsible to hold the elections and it was the responsibility of the government to assist the commission and create a level playing field for equal opportunity of all.

He said the government has been working from the beginning to create such an atmosphere in the election field.

Dr Ahmed said the elections to local government body of Upazila Parishad (Sub-district Council) would be held in two phases on December 24 and 28.

The EC would announce the detail schedules of both the parliamentary elections and the Upazila Parishad Polls at an appropriate time.

The Chief Adviser said the EC decided to hold the parliamentary elections first to avoid any impediment, obstacle or confrontation to switch over to the democratic transition and show respect to the request of the majority of political parties.

Keeping in mind the spontaneous aspiration of the common people about the local government elections, he said the Upazila Parishad elections would be held immediately after the parliamentary elections.

The parliamentary election was scheduled to be held on January 22 last year but blood-stained political turmoil over the elections forced President Iajuddin Ahmed to cancel the elections and impose the state of Emergency in the country on January 12 the same year.

In recent weeks, the caretaker government reached an understanding with political parties and released bigwig politicians, including two former Prime Ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, to create a congenial atmosphere for the election and ensure participation of all political parties.


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