Elections in emergency-ruled Bangladesh will be held by December next year, Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed has said.
"The election would be held by December next year but vote has to be given to such persons who will take care of you through five years. Don't sell your vote and don't allow others to do that," he told a meeting of local official sat northwestern Rangpur yesterday.
Ahmed, who has ruled out the possibility of military takeover several times in the past, criticised the use of money and muscle power during the previous polls.
He also sought cooperation from all quarters in the army-assisted voter registration process to stage credible polls by December 2008, media reports said today.
The comments came days after the chief of the military-backed caretaker government, Fakhruddin Ahmed, pledged to hold the polls by the next year stressing "there should not be any confusion about it".
Major countries, including the United States, have favoured Bangladesh's quick return to democracy. The US Charge d' Affaires Geeta Pasi said that "the people of Bangladesh have fought hard and sacrificed their lives for democracy. They deserve no less".
"Bangladeshis have entrusted the caretaker government with a great responsibility, including to put into place a foundation for a free and fair election by the end of 2008 and a healthy, functioning democratic system that Bangladeshis deeply desire," she said at a seminar yesterday.
Speaking at the same function, Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury said there should always be civilian supremacy over the military in a democracy, but favoured closer civil-military cooperation to bolster national security.
"The role of the security forces in a democracy is defined and delineated by the cardinal principle of civilian supremacy in the affairs of the state. However, in a violent and crime-inflicted society with trans-border links, they may assume a more robust role," he said.
President Iajuddin Ahmed imposed a state of emergency in January this year amid heightened political tension between two main parties -- detained former premier Sheikh Hasina's Awami League and her archrival Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)--ahead of the January 22 polls, which were later cancelled.