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Jamaat, 24 parties cleared to contest polls

Jamaat-e-Islami and 24 other parties have been cleared by the Bangladesh Election Commission to contest the December 18 elections.

world Updated: Nov 04, 2008 13:28 IST

Jamaat-e-Islami and 24 other parties have been cleared by the Bangladesh Election Commission to contest the December 18 elections.

The poll body ignored the objections, supported with documentary proof by several bodies, against the Jamaat and some of the Islamist parties, alleging that its leaders had participated in the killings of unarmed Bengali writers and artists during the run-up to the freedom struggle in 1971.

Jamaat, the country's largest Islamist party, is an ally of former prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the two shared power during 2001-06.

"The (election) commission has got the statement of Jamaat regarding the objections and there is no need for a formal hearing on the matter," Commissioner M. Sakhawat Hussain told The Daily Star newspaper on Monday.

Facilitating the poll campaign by parties, the military-backed caretaker government has partially lifted the curbs under the national emergency.

It also began on Tuesday to start troops pullout across the country and relaxed emergency powers rules (EPR) allowing political parties to hold meetings and rallies ahead of the parliamentary and upazila (sub district) elections, the latter slated for Dec 28.

Zia, in talks with alliance partners, is widely perceived as having gained the advantage. Her chief rival Sheikh Hasina, also a former prime minister, is to cut short her stay in the US for medical reasons and is to return on Thursday instead of November 10, The Daily Star said.

"The number of registered political parties will be between 20 and 25 after the final scrutiny," the EC official said, "although initially we thought the number would be between 30 and 35".

A total of 55 political parties contested the eighth parliamentary election held on October 1, 2001.

The EC officials said reduction in the number of political parties and the new electoral rules will also reduce the number of candidates this year.

The EC secretariat appointed 64 returning officers and 481 assistant returning officers for upazila polls.

All major parties - Awami League (AL), Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Ershad led Jatiya Party (JP), Bangladesh Sammyobadi Dal (ML), Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Bangladesh Workers Party, Krishak Sramik Janata League, the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Bangladesh National Awami Party (NAP), Jatiya Party (Monju), Gonotantri Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab), Oikyaboddho Nagorik Andolon (Quazi Farrok), and Zaker Party - will also get the registration certificates soon.

This is Bangladesh's tenth general election since it became independent in 1971.

It was called off amid political turmoil in January last year.

The international community, particularly the US, Britain and European Union, have warned military-backed regime that the polls should be inclusive, free and fair and must be seen as credible.

A large number of foreign observers are expected to monitor the polls.

Sheikh Hasina last week urged the Bush administration to send officials to oversee the polls.

First Published: Nov 04, 2008 13:21 IST