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Bangladesh warns against interference in poll

world Updated: Nov 21, 2008 12:44 IST

Bangladesh's Election Commission has dismissed calls by a US based electoral watchdog for the military to refrain from intervening in the country's political process.

The army-backed interim government has called a parliamentary vote for December 18 to end nearly two years of emergency rule, imposed after scheduled elections were delayed due to political violence.

Army chief General Moeen U Ahmed has said the military would help in the efforts to restore democracy.

On Wednesday, Sam Gejdenson, a former U.S. Congressman and board member of the Washington-based watchdog National Democratic Institute, called for the military to "refrain from intervening in the political and electoral process".

Election Commissioner Sakhawat Hossain responded late on Thursday, saying: "NDI interfered in the country's internal affairs directly giving their statement about the electoral process. They have no right to make any comment on our internal matters.

"It is an issue for the (interim) government, the political parties and the Election Commission to decide when they will conduct the election and how they will ensure the voting rights of the people, through a peaceful, congenial and lawful atmosphere," Sakhawat, a retired army brigadier-general, told reporters.

The NDI suggested against deploying troops at polling centres. "We will decide whether to deploy police, army or Ansar (auxiliary force) at polling stations to see the voting is peaceful and honest," Sakhawat said.