|4 city corpn polls schedule next month|
|Friday, 29 February 2008|
HTML clipboardStaff Correspondent
The Election Commission will announce the schedule for four city corporation elections next month aiming to hold the polls at the end of April.
'We will announce the schedule next month for elections to four city corporations and hope that the government will create an environment enabling the people to go for electioneering,' chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda said during the second round of dialogue with the Jatiya Party on Monday.
Most of the political parties, which participated in the ongoing EC-sponsored second round of talks on electoral reforms, however, opposed holding of local government elections before the parliamentary polls.
'We will hold elections to the city corporations as a trial run of our newly prepared voters' roll with photographs though most of the political parties do not support it to be held ahead of the parliamentary elections', Huda said. The four city corporations are Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet.
The draft voters' rolls of the four areas were published on February 18 and are now on display for corrections. All three election commissioners led by CEC on February 5 called on the chief adviser to the caretaker government and urged him to take steps to create a congenial environment for holding polls to the four city corporations and seven municipalities in April.
'The government will decide how it will create a congenial atmosphere for the polls, either by lifting emergency or relaxing it,' Huda said hoping that a decision in this regard would be made early next month.
The local government ministry and the Election Commission are preparing a set of new electoral codes of conduct including new eligibility criteria for candidates in local government polls. Local government adviser Anwarul Iqbal is scheduled to hold a meeting with the chief election commissioner, ATM Shamsul Huda, to set the qualifications and disqualifications of the candidates for the local government elections in line with the recommendations of the committee for strengthening the local governments headed by AMM Shawkat Ali, now an adviser to the government.
No political leaders holding any party post or any office of profit could contest the polls, according to the draft of the new electoral rules for local government.
The CEC on Wednesday said that the EC was planning to hold televised debates between the candidates for the four city corporation polls, which may be broadcast on BTV and private channels. 'If the city corporation election broadcasts are successful, we will hold similar debates for the national polls', the CEC said.
The EC's roadmap towards holding the stalled ninth parliamentary polls by December this year, stipulated that all the overdue elections to city corporations, municipal corporations, and union and upazila councils should be held before the general elections.
The commission later modified the plan, seeking to complete the overdue city corporation and some municipal polls before the parliamentary elections.
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