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» 05/13/2008
BANGLADESH
Doubts remain in Dhaka over elections under a state or emergency
by Nozrul Islam
After postponing elections for more than a year, the provisional government announces elections for the third week of December. But the announcement does not mention whether after 16 months the state of emergency will be lifted or not. Discussions with the main parties are bound to be difficult.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – After being postponed several times in the last year and half, Bangladesh’s long-awaited elections are set to take place on the third week of December. This should end the rule by the military-backed provisional government that took over 16 months ago imposing a state of emergency. Many experts remain doubtful however about what might actually happen. The government’s Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed made the announcement himself.

Elections were originally scheduled for January 2007 but were postponed after weeks of violence in which at least 30 people died and hundreds were wounded  Since then, the country has been administered by Ahmed’ government with military backing.

In his address broadcast on TV and radio, Mr Ahmed said that the government was committed to creating an environment that was congenial to campaigning. But many analysts are sceptical, wondering how elections can be held under a state of emergency.

Ahmed did announce that the ban on “indoor politics” was lifted, setting 22 May as the start for a dialogue with political parties over organising the elections.

Public meetings and demonstrations remain however illegal and the chief adviser has not set any date for lifting the state of emergency.

Indeed although the military-backed government pledged a return to democracy within 2008 it is hard to say whether it will actually concede power to an elected government.

Its policy of dismantling and rebuilding the country’s two dominant political parties has not worked. The leader of the Awami League, Sheikh Hasina, and that of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Khaleda Zia, both jailed on corruption charges, have still important followings. By contrast, the provisional government is losing public support because of the shadow cast by the army and by runaway prices.

Ahmed remains confident though that dialogue with the parties, presently at an impasse, will prove worthwhile.

It still faces a uphill struggle because the Awami League announced that it will not recognise the elections if its leader, Hasina, is not freed. Concurrently the BNP is faced with deep divisions caused by Khaleda Zia’s absence. 


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See also
05/19/2008 BANGLADESH
Leader of largest Islamic party arrested on corruption charges
by Nozrul Islam
12/17/2008 BANGLADESH
State of emergency lifted to pave the way for elections in Bangladesh
by Nozrul Islam
01/12/2007 BANGLADESH
National state of emergency is imposed, elections postponed, but it all seems a contrived manoeuvre
by Nozrul Islam
01/19/2007 BANGLADESH
Elections not likely before six months
08/05/2008 BANGLADESH
Awami Leagues sweeps to victory in local elections

Editor's choices
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Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
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Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
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Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
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pp. 176
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