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Bangladesh Headed for a Tragic Unilateral Poll
Two major alliances poised for a political face-off
Golam Mustofa Sarowar (Golam)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-21 10:53 (KST)   
As the caretaker government, the Election Commission and the BNP-led 4-party alliance proceed with their plan to hold elections on Jan. 22, and the AL-led "grand alliance" continues to demand a rescheduling of the poll date, Bangladesh is headed for a dreadful unilateral election in which political conflict, clashes and fighting seems unavoidable.

According to sources, the election is going to be a one-man show for the 4-party alliance with most other political parties remaining aside.

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Upon the advice of the caretaker government on Wednesday, the Election Commission has decided to send Commissioner S. M. Zakaria on leave. It also re-fixed the due date for filing nomination papers to Dec. 21 (previously set for Dec. 24). But as this fell short of the Awami League's (AL) grand alliance demands, it stuck to their decision to observe a strike on Thursday.

Determined to hold the polls on Jan. 22, many nominees of the 4-party alliance, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuyian, filed nomination papers on Wednesday.

The incapable caretaker government headed by an inefficient President Iajuddin Ahmed has failed miserably to resolve the protracted political deadlock over the election issue. The two major alliances are now poised for a political face-off. Widespread clashes and violence are feared in different parts of the country as Thursday's strike is aimed at resisting the Jan. 22 poll date.

The 14-party alliance, together with the Jatiya Party, the LDP-led Jatiya Oikya Front, the Zaker Party, the Islami Unity Front (IOJ) and the Islami Oikya Front, announced at a rally at Paltan on Monday the forging of the much-talked-about grand alliance and rejected the Parliament election scheduled for Jan. 22. The grand alliance also called for Thursday's countrywide strike, on the day that had been earlier fixed for filing nomination papers.

The grand alliance said the current election schedule must be cancelled and a fresh schedule announced after the implementation of the advisers' package proposal in full to create a proper atmosphere for fair elections. The rally at Paltan Maidan was addressed by Awami League president Shiekh Hasina, Jatiya Party chairman H .M. Ershad and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president Badruddoza Chowdhury, among others.

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, addressing a 4-party rally on Tuesday also at Paltan Maidan, demanded that the election be held within 90 days and that the scheduled polling date -- Jan. 22 -- not be changed. The 4-party alliance has completed all its preparations for filing nomination papers before the Dec. 21 due date.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Golam Mustofa Sarowar

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