Dates announced for parliamentary polls; Zia and Hasina to hold talks after Eid; World Bank to provide $130 million to Bangladesh; Foreign Adviser Chowdhury: CA Ahmed’s visit to China has strengthened the “time-tested” and “all-weather” ties
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Email
  • Whatsapp
  • Linkedin
  • Print
  • Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed announced that the much-anticipated ninth parliamentary elections would be held on December 18, 2008, while polls to upazila parishads would be held in two phases on December 24 and 28. Political parties, including the Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) and the BNP raised doubts about the short time gap between the two elections, with the JIB terming the schedule “unrealistic1.” US Ambassador James Moriarty hoped that a free, fair and credible election would be held with the participation of all major political parties according to the EC's roadmap2.

    Even as Kheleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina on their part agreed to hold 'unconditional’ talks after Eid-ul-Fitr on Hasina's return from abroad, the BNP-led four-party alliance made moves to expand the coalition to contest the coming parliamentary election. The AL-led 14-party combine was also aiming at further expansion3. The AL leadership also called on its cadres to work united for the restoration of democracy as well as to fulfill the ‘2020 vision’ document, which intends to make Bangladesh a middle-income country4.

    BNP leaders asserted that they will not accept the new electoral provisions being implemented in the upcoming parliamentary polls. Reports also noted that the BNP and its allies might not even apply for registration with the EC as they do not accept the new provisions of the Representation of the People Order (RPO)5. The AL on its part demanded that the government and the EC implement the Representation of the People Order (RPO), except some of the provisions it had opposed6. The EC announced on September 22 that it will ease the procedure for registration of the political parties7. However, parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ) of the BNP-led alliance still opposed some of the criteria, especially regarding the conditions that restricted registration of the religion-based political parties8.

    In other developments, the World Bank decided to provide $130 million to Bangladesh to help the government implement its ongoing policies and pro-poor programmes designed to cope with high food prices9. The three-day Bangladesh-India maritime boundary talks ended on September 17 in Dhaka without reaching any agreements on the disputed issues. Both side however described the talks as 'fruitful'10.

    Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury stated that the recent visit of Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed to China had strengthened bilateral ties between the two countries.
    Ahmed held talks with President Hu Jintao, Vice President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. Chowdhury stated that the meetings underscored the fact that Bangladesh-China relations were “time-tested” and “all-weather,” and that they symbolised a “comprehensive partnership for cooperation.” Potential areas for cooperation included the construction of Friendship bridges on the Meghna and the Meghna-Gomti, collaboration on nuclear power technology with a view to implementing the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant11.