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Bangladesh alliance issues poll boycott threat

The Awami League has threatened to boycott the January 23 polls unless the caretaker government carries out electoral reforms.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2006 12:35 IST

The Awami League (AL)-led 14-party coalition in Bangladesh has threatened to boycott the January 23 polls unless the caretaker government implements the agreed package of changes, including revamping of the Election Commission that is to conduct the elections.

The coalition also said it would not be possible for it to participate in the elections within the period of 90 days of the caretaker government's tenure.

Not holding elections by that date could create a constitutional crisis. The 90-day period ends on January 25.

The coalition and its three allies on Friday issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the caretaker government asking it to implement the package of changes.

The ultimatum, in effect, is to get the government to act on the package. The alliance says the caretaker government is dragging its feet on some of the points, allegedly under pressure from the rival alliance led by Begum Khaleda Zia.

If a major alliance boycotts the polls then it could cause a political crisis, questioning the credibility of the elections, political analysts say.

"If the package deal is not implemented in the next 24 hours, we will go for tough movements including non-stop sit-in demonstrations around the Bangabhaban," 14-party coordinator Abdul Jalil of Awami League told media late on Friday evening.

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-led Jatiya Oikya Front and Zaker Party also expressed solidarity with the 14-party stance at the press conference.

"If the package offer is not implemented completely and the election is foiled for any reasons, we will blame Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed for it and go for a one-point movement with the 14-party and other parties for his resignation," LDP Secretary General Abdul Mannan said.

Jalil said if the interim government is sincere about holding a free and fair election, it should implement the package proposal in full.

"In the advisers' package offer, there are some specific proposals on reconstitution of the Election Commission, updating of the voter list, rescheduling of the polls schedule and neutralisation of the administration.

They (advisers) proposed that they would reconstitute the Election Commission by removing election commissioners SM Zakaria and Modabbir Hossain Chowdhury, and appoint two more commissioners.

But they failed to implement their proposals," said Jalil, who is also AL general secretary.

First Published: Dec 09, 2006 12:35 IST