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Awami League may 'resist' Bangladesh polls

Awami League will announce its final electoral stance on Wednesday along with leaders of the 13 other parties that are part of its alliance.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2007 12:12 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Awami League, Bangladesh's oldest political party, has vowed not to "allow a walkover" to its rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) should it decide to boycott the January 23 general elections.

In such an event, the elections would be "resisted", a Awami League leader told The Daily Star Online.

"If we do not go to the polls that does not necessarily mean giving a walkover to BNP. If we decide not to contest the elections, (we) will resist it," Amir Hossain Amu said.

Political analysts, however, are of the view that this could at best be a bargaining point with the caretaker government conducting the polls and, more likely, a part of the campaign.

Awami League "has gone too far" into the elections to stay away from them, English weekly Holiday, not friendly disposed to the party or the alliance it leads, said in its year-end analysis.

The League will announce its final electoral stance on Wednesday along with leaders of the 13 other parties that are part of its alliance.

BNP chief Khaleda Zia, who leads the rival four-party alliance, has expressed the hope for "full participation", making it clear that this is the time to plunge into the poll campaign and "not for blockades".

While the Zia-led alliance is perceived way ahead in campaign, the League has a long list of demands before it can participate.

These include President Iajuddin Ahmed, who doubles as chief advisor of the caretaker government, making way for someone neutral, removal of one of the three election commissioners and restraining the armed forces from aiding civilian authority.

The League received a setback when its new ally, former president HM Ershad, was debarred from contesting elections after being convicted in a corruption case. His Jatiya Party has said it would boycott the polls.

The League says much campaign time was lost due to political bickering and protests against the government and wants the poll date postponed.

The constitution stipulates polls within 90 days of the caretaker government taking office, a period that ends on January 25.

Any change would require an amendment to the constitution for which there is no parliament at the moment.

Reminded of the constitutional requirement to hold elections within a 90-day period after the parliament dissolves, Amu said: "We cannot be a scapegoat in the name of constitution; the constitution has been changed many times before."

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