CEC: State of emergency to be lifted at a suitable time before the December 29 elections; AL and the JP enter into an electoral alliance; CA urges measures to hold free and transparent national elections
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  • Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A.T.M. Shamsul Huda asserted that the state of emergency would be lifted at a suitable time before the upcoming December 29 parliamentary elections. Huda noted that the commission had already made a request to the government in this regard1. The EC also plans to organise electoral debates on crucial issues before the elections with the participation of top political leaders, including Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia2. Both the leaders on December 5 called for concerted efforts to strengthen democracy in the country3.

    The Awami League (AL) and the Jatiya Party (JP) meanwhile have agreed to a seat sharing formula ahead of the elections. The JP would contest 50 seats as a component of the AL-led grand electoral alliance, thus bringing to an end some hard bargaining over the issue4. The alliance also drafted its electoral manifesto with includes a promise to make it mandatory to publish the sources of income of the prime minister, ministers, lawmakers and their families to ensure transparency of those in government5.

    Chief Adviser (CA) Fakhruddin Ahmed on his part stated that the press in Bangladesh was totally free as no restrictive regulations have been imposed under the present state of emergency6. Ahmed urged field-level government officials to take all necessary measures to hold free and transparent national elections on December 29 so that a corruption and terrorism-free country could be built7.

    In other developments, British High Commissioner Stephen Evans stated that a smooth transition to an elected government through free and credible elections was vital for Bangladesh, as the country could not afford to go on with the politics of confrontation8. The US Ambassador to Dhaka on his part noted that elections intended to restore democratic rule in Bangladesh will be a water shed event which could produce either a model Muslim democracy or a new hotbed of extremism9.