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     Volume 4 Issue 3 | July 9, 2004 |


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News Notes

A Farce it Really was
Ruling coalition candidate Mossaddak Ali Falu was declared elected with 78,727 votes in Dhaka-10 by-polls amidst unprecedented intimidation of voters and a free-style vote rigging.

The fight for the capital's most prestigious seat in the national parliament turned into a farce immediately after it started in the early morning. The government made a mockery of a High Court ruling that ordered the government to deploy members of the army in every polling centres. Instead of manning the polling booths, members of the army kept them selves busy patrolling on the street. Hordes of young Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) supporters captured most of the polling booths even before the battle royal saw the light of the day. "Fake voters from Demra, Lalbagh, Kamrangir Char, Motijheel and Sabujbagh 'cast' votes mostly between 8 am and 10 am. Later they hung around at different polling centres," a Daily Star report says.

In fact, most of the voting centres were off limits to the opposition Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh candidate's polling agents; Falu loyalists even chased Major (retd) Mannan, the BDB candidate, out of Hossain Ali Primary School in Nakhalpara, where he went to observe the polling. "Our voters and polling agents were driven away. I had no option but to boycott the election and appealed to the Election Commission to cancel it," Mannan told the reporters who were accompanying him.

However, the Election Commission office in Sher-e-Bangla Nogor witnessed another act of Victorian farce. Acting Chief Election Commissioner (ACEC) was not present in the office while the BDB candidate stormed the EC headquarters with fellow BDB leader Mahi B Chowdhury, demanding cancellation of the election. While Mannan complained that army-men were not deployed at the polling centres, Munsef Ali, one of the Election Commissioners, said, "But I have seen them." Mahi B Chowdhury MP tried to help Munsef understand the BDB candidate's plea. To which Munsef reiterated with: "The two centres I have visited, I have seen army there." At this point Mannan just lost it and hollered at Munsef, "you are telling a lie"; the election commissioner retorted back with "You can't speak like this. It is you who is lying."

All was, in fact, well in the BNP camp; as local dailies were littered with news of false balloting, the ruling party had brushed aside the allegations as baseless. "The election was free and fair; and was held in the most peaceful manner," said Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, the BNP secretary general. The claim is laughable at a time when the ACEC declared the by-polls as "not satisfactory." Being asked if the poll was held in a free, fair and impartial manner, the ACEC Saifur Rahman said, "These are very weighty words…I can only say the poll was not totally satisfactory."

It is, however, quite turbid to the general people why the BNP, which came to power in an electoral landslide, has to resort to vote rigging to win elections. "The Prime Minister has ruined all her political achievements just to get her favourite man elected," Mahi B Chowdhury said. "The by-election marked the death of democracy," the BDB MP added.

Screen Legend Brando Dies at 80

Screen legend Marlon Brando, famous for his roles in On the Waterfront and The Godfather, died aged 80 in a Los Angeles hospital. Brando, who had been ill for some time, was regarded as one of the pivotal actors of the post-war period.

He starred in more than 40 films, including Apocalypse Now, and won two best actor Oscars. Brando is perhaps best known for his role as Mafia leader Don Corleone in the 1972 classic The Godfather. Brando's lawyer, David J Seeley, said the cause of death was being withheld and added that the actor "was a very private man".

Bernardo Bertolucci, who directed Brando in Last Tango in Paris said: "None of us had ever encountered such a living legend, and for lovers of cinema he was perhaps the only true legend who'd ever lived.”

Native Americans have also mourned the passing of a high-profile campaigner for their cause. Brando famously sent a woman in native American garb to collect one of his Oscar awards and to protest at the US' neglect towards the continent's earliest inhabitants.

Brando received eight Oscar nominations during his lifetime - all for best actor apart from his most recent nod in 1990 for A Dry White Season, which was for best supporting actor. His two Oscar wins were for On the Waterfront and The Godfather. The other nominations were for Last Tango in Paris (1973), Sayonara (1957), Julius Caesar (1953), Viva Zapata! (1952) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).

At the time of his death, he was working with French-Tunisian director, Ridha Behi, on a film following an Arab youth's gradual disenchantment with the American dream. He was to have played himself in "Brando and Brando" - personifying of all that outsiders admire about America.

His personal life was well documented and marked by tragedy. The Brando family was in the spotlight at the murder trial of the actor's son Christian, accused of killing the abusive fiancée of his sister Cheyenne in 1990. Christian later served five years of a 10-year sentence for manslaughter. Brando's daughter Cheyenne, on the other hand, committed suicide in 1995.

He had at least 11 children with three ex-wives and various other women. In later years, the actor became increasingly reclusive. Brando, who had a well-documented weight problem, told an interviewer in the 1990s that he had withdrawn under the stress of being constantly in the public eye. "I've had so much misery in my life, being famous and wealthy," he said.
Source: BBC online




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