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Hasina demands polls by April

world Updated: Jan 14, 2008 12:15 IST

Indicted in an extortion case, former Prime Minister and Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina has demanded polls by April this year to put in place an elected government in the emergency-ruled country, reports said on Monday.

Terming the Elections Commission's roadmap for holding elections in December 2008 as "fraud with the nation", the detained ex-premier has asked the party leaders to launch a campaign for early elections, a newspaper report quoted her lawyer as saying.

"Launch a movement demanding elections by March or April," Hasina told the party leaders at the courtroom as charges were framed against her on an extortion case involving Taka three crore.

Hasina's call has come a week after her party demanded polls by July 2008.

Marking the completion of one year of his government, Chief Advisor of the interim government Fakhruddin Ahmed has earlier said that his administration decided to hold talks with political parties on reform measures.

In a televised speech, Ahmed said, "I would like to inform you clearly, no political party or force is our rival. We firmly believe, by the end of this year, we will be able to develop a pluralist system in the country which will reflect the hopes and aspirations of the 14 and half crore people of the country."

The government formed with military support, launched a drive against corruption soon after assuming office. Under this a total of 52 high profile figures, mostly politicians were jailed, 21 of them for 10 years or more.

Officials said some 80 influential people including Hasina and archrival Khaleda Zia were arrested as part of the massive anti-graft campaign while many high profile fugitives were tried in absentia.