EC facing a plethora of difficulties ahead of the parliamentary elections; Political parties announce their election manifestoes
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  • Even as the caretaker government announced that the state of emergency, imposed in the country on January 11, 2007, will be withdrawn on December 17, 2008, reports noted that the Election Commission (EC) was facing difficulties in resolving a plethora of problems regarding finalising the arrangements before the upcoming parliamentary elections on December 29. For instance, 865 candidates out of the 2,456 who have filed their nomination papers had not paid their income tax nor had any Tax Identification Number (TIN)1. The EC cleared the candidacy of 119 parliamentary aspirants, including seven each from the Awami League (AL) and the BNP, during hearings of appeals filed against cancellation of nomination papers by Returning Officers (ROs).

    BNP on its part urged the authorities to ease campaigning rules in order to ensure smooth electioneering for the December 29 parliamentary polls2. Following a seat-sharing deal between the BNP and the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamaat would contest 34 seats under the banner of four-party alliance3. BNP also stated that if the elections were held in a free and fair manner, the party would accept the results. Khaleda Zia unveiled the party's election manifesto on December 13, titled 'Save Country, Save People.' The party asserted that said it will reform the government system and scrap the special powers act if voted back to power4.

    The Awami League (AL) and the Jatiya Party (JP) have meanwhile reached an agreement to allow JP candidates to contest in 48 seats from the AL-led electoral grand alliance5. AL’s Sheikh Hasina also unveiled her party's election manifesto 'Charter for Change' highlighting five promises. These included lowering of commodity prices and avoiding an economic depression, curbing corruption, raising production of power and energy, eradication of poverty and inequity, and establishment of good governance6. The party also opened its Election Media Cell on December 137.

    The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-led by Col (retd.) Oli Ahmed announced that it will contest the upcoming parliamentary election separately as its hope for becoming a component of Awami League’s grand alliance faded8. The Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) launched its election campaign urging the electorate not to cast their vote for any war criminal or corrupt politician9.

    In other developments, Bangladesh was nominated for the vice-chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), a body which implements all decisions of convention and protocol under the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCC)10.