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Bangladesh parties to announce decision on seat sharing

Bangladesh's two major political alliances are set to announce their decisions on seat sharing for next month's polls.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 15:07 IST

Bangladesh's two major political alliances are on Monday set to announce their decisions on seat sharing for next month's polls after last minute talks with respective combine partners.

"We have almost finalised the decision on sharing seats and we will let you know it later today," a senior leader of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's Awami League-(AL)-led 'mega alliance' said.

The alliance on Sunday announced its participation in next months poll, ending Bangladesh's protracted political standoff as the Election Commission extended the deadline for filing nomination papers for two more days and promised to correct the "rigged" voters list.

AL leaders said they would file nomination papers on Tuesday after finalising talks on sharing seats with alliance partners that includes former military ruler Hussain Muhammad Ershad's Jatiya Party (JP) and ex-president Badruddoza Chowdhury's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led four-party combine welcomed their rival's decision and said they also were set to announce the decision on seat distribution among partners later today.

Media reports said that four-party partners including fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami were bargaining with BNP for more seats for their parties though several leaders of the alliance have already filed nominations before hand.

The AL-led alliance, meanwhile, appears to be heading for trouble with its leftist allies questioning a "memorandum of understanding" signed by AL general secretary Abdul Jalil with rightwing Khelafat Majlish leader Abdur Rab Yusufi promising to implement their demands to allow certified Islamic scholors to issue religious edicts, if voted to power.

Right activists and intelllectuals called the deal "unfortunate" but Khelafat Majlish leaders said the religious scholars would just give their edicts while the authority of their implementation would remain with the normal court.

Meanwhile, the international community including the United States and Britain hailed the AL-led alliance's decision to go to the polls ending the country's past two months of political wilderness.

"We very much welcome the decision," a British High Commission spokesman said while a US embassy statement said "we continue to believe that competitive elections are the best way to forward Bangladesh."

AL sources said letters were being sent to party nominees by mail in constituencies where the nominations were already finalised.

Hasina's alliance was demanding President Iajuddin Ahmed to quit as caretaker government chief alleging that her archrival Khaleda Zia was using him as a "stooge" to stage a rigged poll for the return of the BNP-led four-party to power.

They were also waging a campaign for reconstitution of the EC, removing "controversial" commissioners, scrapping of the current poll schedule and revision of the "rigged" voters roll.

"There are about 22.5 million ghost voters on the present list. The names of six million genuine voters have been left out," Awami League leader Mokammel Haque said after their meeting with the EC on Saturday.

First Published: Dec 25, 2006 15:07 IST