The Bangladesh Election Commission on Monday postponed the polling date for the country’s general election from December 23 to December 30 amid calls for a deferral from the new opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front and other parties.
Chief Election Commissioner K.M. Nurul Huda made the announcement in capital Dhaka, a day after the opposition alliance, including former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), decided to contest the polls, bdnews24.com reported.
The alliance also called for the election to be deferred by a month.
Huda said the poll body welcomed the opposition alliance’s decision to contest the polls.
BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir had earlier urged the government to ensure a level playing field for holding a free, fair and neutral election.
The Election Commission will now accept nominations till November 28, said Huda. “They (BNP and Oikya Front) said they are interested in participating in the polls… The election commissioners discussed the matter and came to this decision.”
The ruling Awami League (AL) of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the parliamentary opposition Jatiya Party said they had no objection to the revised schedule.
The AL was founded by the late Sheikh Mujibur Rehman who led the country’s struggle for liberation from Pakistan in 1971. It has been in and out of power since 1973, when it first formed the government. It stormed back to power with a landslide election victory in early 2009 and won a second term in 2014. It is now facing challenges from Khaleda’s BNP and its allies, which boycotted the 2014 elections.