President seeks time to defer Dhaka polls | india | Hindustan Times
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President seeks time to defer Dhaka polls

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 16:33 IST
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Bangladesh President and Chief Advisor Iajuddin Ahmed has sought time to decide about deferring the general elections due on January 22 after being apprised by his advisors on talks held with rival political alliances.

Advisers Mahbubul Alam and Yasmeen Murshed had meetings with Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) secretary general Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Awami League general secretary Abdul Jalil, proposing deferment of the polls by "over a month".

But the Awami League rejected the idea unless all their demands were met, including Ahmed's resignation as chief adviser and corrections in the voter roll, the Daily Star reported on Thursday.

While the BNP-led four-party alliance is going ahead in its campaign to return to power, the larger Awami League-led 14-party conglomerate alliance and three more allies opted out of the polls January 3.

The Awami League alliance, led by Sheikh Hasina, has alleged that the present caretaker government and the Election Commission are biased towards former prime minister Khaleda Zia's four-party alliance.

Ahmed's caretaker administration is under considerable pressure from different domestic quarters, but more significantly from the international community to work out a compromise to ensure that the polls are not perceived as one-sided.

Only these pressures and a last-minute compromise among the principal contends could cause the postponement, political analysts said.

Some advisors of the caretaker administration are still trying to get the two sides to come to the negotiation table and work out a compromise, said media reports.

"If the political parties reach a consensus through discussions, the January 22 polls can be postponed," Advisor Shafiqul Haq Choudhury told the media.

Efforts at last-minute reconciliation are on even as Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday announced a programme for nationwide strike right up to the polling day.

A final decision, after consulting the government, would rest on the Election Commission, itself in the eye of the political storm.

The caretaker government, however, appeared to distance itself from the polling body.

"Only the Election Commission, not the caretaker government, has to take responsibility if any violence takes place on polling day," Choudhury said.

"The commission is provided with all the tools for holding a peaceful election. The tools - the armed forces, administration and law enforcement agencies - will function in line with its directives," he added.

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