Ex-PM Hasina followers win Bangladesh local vote

The polls were the first to be held in Bangladesh since the army-backed government took power in early 2007 after political violence that led to the cancellation of a national election in January that year and the imposition of emergency rule.

Ex-PM Hasina followers win Bangladesh local vote
Unofficial results from local elections in Bangladesh showed that followers of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina won almost all the positions in a free, fair and peaceful vote, poll officials said.

Among the victors was mayor Badruddin Ahmed Kamran of the northeastern city of Sylhet, who had contested Monday's election from jail.

Bangladeshis voted for mayors and councillors in four city corporations and nine municipalities in the first phase of local elections organised by the country's interim government in a test run for national elections expected by December.

Chief Election Commissioner A.T.M. Shamsul Huda termed the polls a "gateway to democracy" on Monday and hoped the national elections would also be free, fair and credible.

The polls were the first to be held in Bangladesh since the army-backed government took power in early 2007 after political violence that led to the cancellation of a national election in January that year and the imposition of emergency rule.

Since then, the interim rulers have promised to restore democracy and rid the nation of endemic corruption.

The graft crackdown has snared Hasina and the leader of the nation's other main political party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia.

Local leaders of Hasina's Awami League won the four posts for city mayor and captured most of the positions in the municipalities as well, election commission officials said.

Neither of the parties fielded people directly to contest the local polls but backed those who stood as independents because of a government ruling banning direct involvement of political parties. The High Court late last week reversed this ruling, allowing parties to take part in forthcoming rounds of local polls.

The parties of Hasina and Khaleda, known as "battling Begums" for their decades of rivalry, are likely to be the main players in the national polls as well, officials and analysts say.

But the two women, arrested last year for alleged corruption, will be barred from contesting if they are convicted by special courts now trying them.

Bangladesh will hold the remaining city and municipal elections as well as rural upazilla (sub-district) polls by October before the election commission announces schedules for the December parliamentary vote.

Reuters
Last Mod: 05 Ağustos 2008, 11:54
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