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Polls unlikely before 6 months

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 17:41 IST
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Bangladesh's parliamentary polls, scheduled for Monday but called off, may be delayed by six months as the interim government wants to prepare a correct voters' list and 'neutralise' the administration.

A number of advisors in the government, quoted but unnamed by the New Age newspaper on Friday, said that the "peoples' hopes" were more important than the demands of both the contending alliances that the polls be held at the earliest.

The government is considering introducing either national identity cards or voters' identity cards before the elections and such tasks need a minimum six months to complete.

The government will form a committee for preparing guidelines to determine which would be viable - preparing national identity cards or voters' identity cards -considering the time and money the task will require, adviser Tapan Chowdhury told reporters here on Thursday.

Both the major political alliances - led by the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) - have asked the caretaker government to hold the elections as soon as possible.

"But, like the political parties, people are in the dark about the next parliamentary elections as the present caretaker government, formed following the declaration of a state of emergency, is yet to clear the matter," the Daily Star said.

Emergency was imposed January 11 by President Iajuddin Ahmed who stepped down as chief advisor to the caretaker government, making way for Fakhruddin Ahmed, a banker.

The January 22 elections were put off. After much legal juggling, the Election Commission is set to cancel them formally.

This spells a period of political inactivity, banned under the emergency provisions in the constitution, and time for the caretaker government to spruce up the administration.

The advisors have indicated that key officials identified with the regime of Khaleda Zia (2001-06) would be removed in time for the polls.

The government has also set about removing encroachments in the cities, pursuing past cases of economic mismanagement and nabbing criminal elements.

Iftikhar Ahmed Choudhury was sworn in late Thursday in charge of foreign affairs, overseas employment and expatriates' welfare ministry and the ministry in charge of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a sensitive area inhabited by Buddhist tribals.

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