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Poll panel to launch pilot project for voters list

world Updated: Apr 09, 2007 12:37 IST

Bangladesh's Election Commission will launch a pilot project to study the feasibility of preparing an electoral roll with voters photograph and national identity cards before holding the next parliamentary election.

"The Election Commission has decided to launch a pilot project ahead of starting the mega project," the Daily Star quoted Election Commissioner Sahul Hossain as saying.

The election commission had earlier announced that it will require 18 months to prepare the voters list and national ID cards with the help of army.

The pilot project will be launched within a month in a remote rural and an urban area, to assess the time required and the constraints, in implementing the voter list project at an estimated cost of Taka 400 crore, he said adding through this, possible difficulties will be identified to avert it in implementing the voter list preparation project.

Earlier, a delegation of Bangladesh army Saturday made a multimedia presentation to the Election Commission about their plans to implement the voter list preparation project.

The commission officials said, apart from providing technological assistance, the military would also offer its service for building public opinion for the task.

They said committees, comprising of army personnel, chairman, members and their nearest contestants of the local government bodies elections, will be formed.

They will visit go to people with cameras and other instruments to prepare the voter list and national identity cards simultaneously.

The identity cards will contain a set of information about the cardholders, they added.

Major political parties have cautiously welcomed EC's proposals for massive electoral reforms enabling only "honest and competent" people to contest polls.

"These are historic decisions but we need to discuss the proposals within the party fold as well as with the Election Commission," senior presidium member of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League Tofail Ahmed told private Channel I television.

But the interim government in emergency-ruled Bangladesh should lift ban on "indoor politics" allowing the parties to review the reform proposals.

Leader of Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Moudud Ahmed echoing Tofail Ahmed's view said, "We welcome the EC's decision to revise election laws but need to discuss the issues within the party forum first".

Authorities had enforced a ban on political activities since Bangladesh came under emergency rule on January 11, 2007 when President Iajuddin Ahmed resigned as the caretaker chief postponing the polls slated for January 22 amid heightened political tension.

Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda earlier said they also planned to rewrite election laws compelling the political parties to get registered while one must exhaust three years as a party member to contest polls.

The new laws, he said, would not allow bank loan defaulters or bill dodgers to take part in polls.

Huda, however, said mere preparation of a flawless electoral roll was not enough to stage a fair election as the government needed to create a conducive election atmosphere bringing criminals and corrupt politicians to justice so they could not manipulate the polls using money and power.