CA defends local polls plan
Monday, 30 June 2008

Chief adviser Fakhruddin AhmedStaff Reporter

Chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed Saturday defended the Election Commission's schedule to hold local government polls ahead of the year-end national elections.

"People want the local poll before the national one," the CA said at the regional dialogue with local people in Chandanaish, 45 kilometres south of the port city of Chittagong.

"It's not possible to establish democracy without strengthening the local government. Good governance is just as necessary at grassroots level as at the centre," he said.

Fakhruddin said the present government has been working to cut poverty and set up a corruption-free society.

"Our goal is to transfer power to an elected government through a free, fair and peaceful election."

Describing the EC as a completely independent and neutral organisation, the CA said the government would provide the Election Commission with cooperation to hold the elections.

Fakhruddin hoped that those to be elected in the next election would further consolidate the democratic system and work for the welfare of people.

"Preparation for the national polls set for December was almost complete," the CA said.

The chief adviser said a new law was on the cards to bar "graft convicts" from contesting national polls.

The dialogue was joined by 318 local representatives from different professions, including doctor, lawyer, teacher, NGO worker and businessman.

The regional dialogue started in Chandanaish at 9.30.

Prior to the talks, Fakhruddin said: "Political parties are not our opponents. None of us will take part in the next election."

Fakhruddin hoped that a democratic government would be established thanks to the participation of all political parties in the year-end elections.

The CA arrived in Chandanaish at 8.45am by helicopter to join the dialogue that started at 9.30am.

Law adviser AF Hassan Ariff, communications adviser Ghulam Quadir, LGRD adviser Anwarul Iqbal and commerce adviser Hossain Zillur Rahman also joined the talks.

The second part of the dialogue in the Chittagong region was scheduled to start at the city's Engineers Institute.

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