Vol. 5 Num 939 Fri. January 19, 2007  
Front Page

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, advisers to the caretaker government said yesterday.

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.

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, Adviser Tapan Chowdhury told the press yesterday.

He 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.

"All the advisers to the caretaker government have already taken oaths and they will sit at a meeting of the council of advisers next week to review the latest political situation," one source in the government said.

Adviser Geeteara Safiya Choudhury yesterday 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.

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.

"We will try to prepare voters' identity cards as early as possible applying modern technologies," Geeteara said, adding that the caretaker government has set correcting the voter list as one of its priority tasks.

She said the government is preparing a fresh proposal for the political parties in a bid to hold a fair, peaceful and neutral election. The government will sit with the political parties after finalising the proposal, she added.

On EC reconstitution, she said Adviser Mainul Husein is working on the matter.

Replying to another query, Geeteara said the interim authority will review the jobs of the 300 election officials appointed during the BNP-led four-party coalition government's rule. She said the issue will be settled in line with the proposed EC reforms that are still being finalised.