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Observer: Bangladesh's parliamentary elections credible
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10:31, January 01, 2009

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The Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group Cassam Uteem has called the Bangladesh's parliamentary elections held on Monday credible, adding that most key democratic benchmarks were met.

Uteem said this represents a crucial step in the continuing effort to strengthen democracy and improve governance in the country.

"It is a time for leaders on all sides to grasp this opportunity and display statesmanship, with political forces, whether they are a future government or opposition, working in a spirit of mutual respect and co-operation to address the challenges facing the country," Uteem said.

He said that because of these elections, democratic life in the country can now be resumed and the parliament re-constituted after nearly two years.

The Observer Group has been present in Bangladesh since Dec. 22.The team has met with a range of stakeholders since its presence in the country.

For the voting and counting processes Commonwealth Observers were present in all six Divisions of the country, and also co-operated closely with other observers, both national and international, building up a comprehensive picture on the conduct of the electoral process.

Bangladesh Election Commission Wednesday announced the results that for all the 299 seats in the election among them former prime minister Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League won 231 seats, former prime minister Khaleda Zia-led Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) won 29 seats, former president Muhammad Ershad-led Jatiya Party won 27 seats while five small parties and three independent candidates won rest 12 seats.

A total of 1,555 candidates from 39 parties and independents contested the 300-member Parliament election. The election for one seat will be held on Jan. 12 next year due to the death of one candidate.

Bangladesh's 9th Parliamentary elections was originally scheduled to be held on Jan. 22, 2007. Due to the differences between BNP and Awami League over election issues, the political situation deteriorated. President Iajuddin Ahmed on Jan. 11, 2007 had to declared state of emergency and postponed the election.

The new caretaker government headed by former central bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed took office on Jan. 12, 2007 and has promised to hold a free and fair elections.


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