11/03/2008, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Some 80 million voters to cast their ballot in parliamentary elections on 18 December

The country’s Election Commission yesterday announced the date of the election. The two main parties want guarantees for a free and fair election and an end to the state of emergency. The names of candidates and lists must be in by 13 November.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Parliamentary elections will be held in Bangladesh on 18 December; parties have until 13 November to present their lists and the names of their candidates, Chief Election Commissioner Shamsul Huda announced yesterday in a televised broadcast. He also announced that rural government elections will be held on 28 December and that candidates and lists must register before the deadline of 13 November.

The main parties are oiling up their electoral machines and gearing up for the contest. Former PM Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are demanding an end of the state of emergency and guarantees that the vote will be free and fair.

The Election Commission has said that it has recorded the identities, fingerprints and photographs of more than 80 million voters to ensure that the elections will be free and fair, saying that this election will be the most accurate in Bangladesh's history.

Despite such reassuring words tensions between the main political factions remains high.

The Awami League, which won in five municipal elections in August, said it wanted the rural polls delayed by another month to allow more time between the two votes. The BNP has instead accused the election authority of favouring its rivals.

Bangladesh has been under emergency rule since January 2007 when a military-backed caretaker government came to power.

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