Bangladesh Elections 2008

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  1. daredevil

    daredevil BANNED

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    BNP drops Bangladesh poll boycott
    By Mark Dummett
    BBC News, Dhaka

    Bangladesh's former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has announced that her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) will take part in next month's elections.

    She says her party will not boycott the 18 December vote as long as it is put back by 10 days.

    The government has already agreed to that in principle.

    Ms Zia had called on the army-backed caretaker government to delay elections by a month and lift its state of emergency, but it refused to do either.

    Legitimacy

    The government has pledged that the elections will be the fairest in the country's history.

    But without Khaleda Zia's participation, many would have doubted their legitimacy.

    Her BNP and its allies won a two-thirds majority in the last elections in 2001, so their decision to take part removes the last major obstacle to the polls being free, fair and credible.

    Whether this means Khaleda Zia is more likely to be elected prime minister for a fourth time is doubtful.

    The BNP remains popular but has become weak and divided during the past two years.

    Many of its leaders, including Khaleda Zia and her two sons, were accused of corruption and jailed.

    She was then freed on bail, but about 50 others are still behind bars.

    Finding credible new candidates to fill their places is proving difficult.

    Bangladesh's other main party, the Awami League, has been less affected by the crackdown on corruption, even though its leader Sheikh Hasina was also jailed for a while.

    It has already agreed to participate in the elections and is confident of winning.

    Story from BBC NEWS:
    BBC NEWS | South Asia | BNP drops Bangladesh poll boycott

    Published: 2008/11/20 18:47:31 GMT

    © BBC MMVIII
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    UN team to monitor Bangladesh elections

    United Nations (PTI): UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set up a high-level team to monitor next month's parliamentary elections in Bangladesh, which has been beset by political violence and polarization in recent years.

    The panel was set up in response to request from the caretaker government which wants to ensure free and fair election, the UN said. The parliamentary elections in Bangladesh are scheduled for December 18.

    "The panel is tasked with assessing the preparations and conduct of the elections through visits to Bangladesh before and during the elections," Ban's spokesperson said.
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    Bangladesh landmark polls delayed: official


    DHAKA (AFP) — Bangladesh's army-backed government Saturday said December 18 elections set to return democracy to the nation would be delayed after ex-premier Khaleda Zia's party threatened to boycott the polls.
    Chief election commissioner A.T.M. Shamsul Huda said the landmark polls, which would be the first in the impoverished and emergency-ruled nation in seven years, would be moved from December 18 to later in the month.
    "Yes, the election is not going to be held on December 18. We will announce the new schedule tomorrow. The new date could be December 27, 28 or 29," he said.
    The move is seen as a compromise to ensure the polls are perceived as credible and that all major political parties participate.
    It comes after a four-party Islamist alliance, led by Zia's powerful Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), demanded the delay before they would take part.
    The BNP-led alliance won a two-thirds majority in the last elections held in 2001.
    The right-of-centre parties also wanted the interim authorities to lift the state of emergency imposed by the current regime when they took control of the country in January 2007.
    Since the BNP made its demands almost a week ago, government ministers have been ferrying between talks with that party and its major rival, the Awami League, to try and resolve the standoff.
    In the last two days, the election commission also held talks with the two parties to reach a consensus on a new date.
    After the talks with the chief election commissioner, Awami League spokesman Syed Ashraful Islam said it was committed to December 18 and they were reluctant for a delay.
    He said the Awami League would announce its position tomorrow.
    Earlier, with no consensus reached, the government said on Wednesday it would stick to its original plan and there would be no delay.
    But 24 hours later the BNP said it would take part if the date was moved to December 28 and the emergency lifted, prompting ministers to begin talks with both sides again.
    "I clearly say that we will take part in elections on December 28 to restore democracy and to establish the basic rights of the people," said BNP leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia late Thursday.
    She also urged the government to defer nationwide district council polls by at least a month from December 28 and said the army should stay out of the political process.
    The government, which came to power after a row over election fraud between the BNP and the Awami League led to widespread unrest, has promised to restore democracy by the end of the year.
    Over the past two years the government has pushed through key electoral and political reforms, including a crackdown on corruption, which saw both Zia and Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed detained for a year on graft charges.
    Both women have been released on bail in deals with the government to ensure they take part in the elections.
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