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Monday, June 23, 2008
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Polls to be free of black money, muscle power

Chief adviser assures ADB delegates

Reaffirming the caretaker government's commitment to hold general elections in December, Chief Adviser (CA) Fakhruddin Ahmed yesterday said his administration is working to ensure that the elections are free from the influence of money, muscle and misuse of authority.

He said this when a six-member delegation of the board of directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), led by Sebastian Paust, called on him at his office where they discussed political and socio-economic issues of the country.

As the delegation appreciated the government's ongoing dialogue with political parties, Fakhruddin said he and the Election Commission (EC) staked out many times that the parliamentary elections would be held in December as per the EC's roadmap.

He said the interim government is working on two major issues--preparation of a photograph-attached voter list and keeping the next elections free from the influence of muscle, money and misuse of authority.

The chief adviser said the voter list is almost complete, adding that preparing such a voter list with photographs of about 80 million voters in a short time is a tough job.

The ADB delegation said they support the government's determination to keep the general elections free from the influence of muscle, money and misuse of authority.

Team leader Sebastian Paust said during their visits to a few areas of Bangladesh, they got a profound insight into the country.

He said people have a positive impression of the caretaker government and the leadership of the chief adviser.

On the proposed Padma Bridge, the chief adviser said the project should be completed as soon as possible as the bridge is economically as feasible as the Jamuna Bridge.

He said the present government is a constitutional government and besides elections, it is also looking after economic issues.

Fakhruddin sought the contribution of the ADB and other development partners to infrastructure development like transport and energy.

He put emphasis on the support of development partners in mid- and long-term projects, especially on the coastal belts.

Referring to various positive indicators, he hoped that Bangladesh would become a mid-income country in next 15 years.

He briefed the ADB board of directors on the reforms the interim government has brought about in order to strengthen governance and democracy in the country. These include reforms in the Election Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Public Service Commission, separation of the judiciary from the executive, formation of the Local Government Commission and the National Human Rights Commission and formulation of the Right to Information Act.

Fakhruddin said the government is acting not only to make the next general election free, fair and credible, but also all future general elections.

The chief adviser's Press Secretary Syed Fahim Munaim briefed newsmen after the meeting.

ADB Country Director Hua Du was present.

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