Friday, January 19, 2007

Elections unlikely before 6 months

Interim govt firm on preparing national identity or voter card first

The next parliamentary elections may delay for at least six months as the interim government will take the time to prepare a correct voter list. The government is considering introducing either national identity cards or voters' identity cards before going for the polls and such tasks need minimum six months to complete. Adviser Tapan Chowdhury told the press yesterday,the government will form a committee for preparing a guideline to determine which would be viable--preparing national identity cards or voters' identity cards--considering time and money the task will require. He also said some people have opined that it is possible to prepare the voter ID cards within six months.

Both the major political alliances led by Awami League and BNP have meanwhile asked the caretaker government to hold the elections within shortest possible time. But, like the political parties, people are in the dark about the next parliamentary elections as the present caretaker government, formed following declaration of a state of emergency, is yet to clear the matter.

Sources said the caretaker government in its first meeting has set its priority tasks that include correcting the voter list, neutralising the administration and the Election Commission (EC), and maintaining law and order. The interim government is planning to go for a recast in the civil administration and reconstitution of the EC to neutralise the field before polls.

Sources said Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed may address the nation next week outlining his government's plan on holding the elections and the steps it is going to take. Adviser Geeteara Safiya Choudhury told reporters, "It is difficult at this moment to speculate when the election will be held," and that the government will give emphasis to people's expectations for a free and fair poll. When asked about the political parties' demand for holding the election soon, she said, "We will do everything that a free, fair and peaceful election requires and the government will sit with the political parties after finalising the proposal.