JS polls to be held on Dec 18
Sunday, 21 September 2008

Chief Adviser Dr. Fakruddin AhmedCA tells in his televised speech

Staff Correspondent

Elections to the Jatiya Sangsad will be held on Dec 18, and to Upazilas on Dec 24 and 28, the chief adviser announced Saturday.

Fakhruddin Ahmed told the nation in his 8pm televised speech: " ... the Election Commission has made the decision and informed me that the parliamentary elections will be held on the 18th of December this year."
He did not say whether the emergency would be lifted before the elections, drawing criticism from political parties including the Awami League and the BNP.
But he did refer to the recent city polls when emergency rules were relaxed and said a similar step was on the cards ahead of the national elections.
Fakhruddin said the government would act based on the need.
"We have no enmity with the political parties. Nor do we have any conflict of interest or motive," Fakhruddin said.
The EC decision on the dates and order of elections, he said, came in response to demand from political parties.
"In this march towards democratic transition, in order to avoid conflict, showing respect to the wishes of most of the political parties, the Election Commission has decided to hold the parliamentary elections first," Fakhruddin said.
The chief adviser said the schedule for these elections would be announced by the Election Commission.
In an instant reaction, acting Awami League chief Zillur Rahman said: "The chief adviser did not say anything about (lifting of ) emergency ."
"Upazila elections will immediately follow the parliamentary elections. This will mean the elections won't be free. There will be chaos. There will be 100 per cent chance of disruption of peace," Zillur Rahman told reporters at his Gulshan home.
BNP secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain also said he expected some specific announcement on emergency.
The chief adviser also spoke on the preparations for the December polls.
"A major element in a fair and acceptable election is a flawless voter roll. There has been so much controversy in the past regarding voters' list. In only 11 months, the Election Commission with assistance from the armed forces has prepared the roll for eight crore voters with their photographs.
"At the same time, a data base has been prepared for issuance of national identity cards. National ID cards are being issued."
The chief adviser, who said his speech was not aimed at listing the interim government's achievements, referred to the "very peaceful" holding of the elections to the four big cities and nine municipalities on Aug 4.
He sought to assure that the emergency laws would not hamper or hinder the December elections.
"I believe, the (national) elections will also be held in open, healthy and festive atmosphere ... in this context, the issue of relaxing or even lifting the emergency is there.
"I would like to say in unequivocal terms that the government will not hesitate for a moment to do everything necessary to hold a transparent and fair election," Fakhruddin said.
"The relevant emergency laws or rules will be relaxed or repealed at the right time to facilitate campaign and candidates' preparations for the polls."
But, the chief adviser warned against any attempts to disrupt peace and said the government would surely come down hard on anyone trying to foil a fair election.
Chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda had earlier said he had briefed Fakhruddin on "national and Upazila elections" after the last round of dialogue wrapped up earlier saturday.
Huda told bdnews24.com correspondent Moinul Huq Chowdhury Tuesday evening that the chief adviser would "speak on the matter in his speech to the nation".

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