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UN team to monitor Bangladesh polls

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set up a high-level team to monitor next month's parliamentary elections in Bangladesh, which has been beset by political violence.

world Updated: Nov 22, 2008 13:19 IST

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has set up a high-level team to monitor next month's parliamentary elections in Bangladesh, which has been beset by political violence and polarisation in recent years.

The panel was set up in response to request from the caretaker government which wants to ensure free and fair election, the UN said. The parliamentary elections in Bangladesh are scheduled for December 18.

"The panel is tasked with assessing the preparations and conduct of the elections through visits to Bangladesh before and during the elections," Ban's spokesperson said.

The three-member panel begins its first visit to Bangladesh tomorrow and expects to return for about a week around the time of the election. At the conclusion of its visit the panel plans to report key findings and recommendations to Ban.

Francesc Vendrell, the Secretary-General's former personal representative for Afghanistan and European Union envoy to the same country, will head the panel. The other members are Bhojraj Pokharel, Nepal's Chief Election Commissioner, and Aracelly Santana, the former deputy director of the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division.

While visiting Bangladesh earlier this month, Ban described the upcoming polls as an "historic opportunity" for the country.

"It is in the world's and your best interest to see Bangladesh achieve its full potential for democratic development through free and credible elections," he told reporters in Dhaka. "Now is the moment to stand against polarisation and violence that have characterised past elections," the Secretary-General added.