Bangladesh poll chief says new voters key to change

The government lifted the emergency on Dec. 17 but has re-deployed army troops to protect security through the election.

Bangladesh poll chief says new voters key to change

Bangladesh's new voters, who account for about a third of the country's electorate, may be a key tool for political change in the Dec. 29 elections, the election chief said on Monday.

More than 81 million people are eligible to vote in the Dec. 29 elections, which will end nearly two years of emergency rule by an army-backed government and return the South Asian country to democracy.

"New generation voters made the change in the United States by casting their votes for Barack Obama," Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M. Shamsul Huda told reporters.

"If the new voters vote for clean and honest candidates, I believe a change is also possible in our country," he said. "That will change Bangladesh's image positively."

Huda was speaking after a media briefing by the Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), which had fielded 50 short-term observers in Bangladesh.

The frontrunners in this month's election are are the Awami League, led by former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, and Begum Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Bangladesh's interim government, headed by former central bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed, took over in January 2007, following widespread political violence, and cancelled an election due that month.

The interim authority imposed a state of emergency and launched a crackdown on political corruption, in which both Hasina and Khaleda were arrested and held in prison for a year.

They have been released on bail to make sure their parties -- the country's biggest -- take part in the election and help make it peaceful and credible.

The government lifted the emergency on Dec. 17 but has re-deployed army troops to protect security through the election.


Reuters

Last Mod: 22 Aralık 2008, 12:29
Add Comment