01/19/2007, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Elections not likely before six months

The government announces plans to revise voters’ list; it expects the process to last six months. Meanwhile police arrest 2,000 people under the state of emergency regulations, including many Awami League members.

Dhaka (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Elections in Bangladesh might be delayed by as much as six months, the time the current caretaker government thinks it is necessary to prepare a proper voters’ list, government adviser Tapan Chowdhury said yesterday.

In the meantime the state of emergency continues. It was imposed last week to keep in check protests, strikes and factional clashes which for weeks perturbed the national economy.

The government, now led by Fakhruddin Ahmed, will set up a committee to evaluate how much time it will take to prepare a new voters’ list and how much it will cost.

Chowdhury said that some people think it might take six months.

Initially, elections were scheduled for January 22, but a week ago, under pressure from the Awami League-led opposition, Bangladeshi President Iajuddin Ahmed postponed the poll and imposed a state of emergency. He also quit as caretaker prime minister.

The Awami League and its allies had accused him of not being neutral. They also threatened to boycott the elections because in their view, the voters’ list contained the names of 14 million phantom citizens, a situation that would favour the outgoing Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

Under the state of emergency, police has full powers. So far some 2,000 people have been arrested, including many Awami League members.

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