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Bangladesh officials start scrutinizing candidates for January polls

Bangladesh officials start scrutinizing candidates for January polls

Bangladesh election officials on Wednesday began scrutinizing the nomination papers of more than 4,000 candidates vying for next month's national elections.
Hundreds of prospective candidates rushed to meet Tuesday's filing deadline to contest Jan. 22 polls, which a major political alliance had threatened to boycott before their demands for electoral reforms were met.
On Wednesday, local administrative officials across the country checked the information of 4,146 candidates and their eligibility to run for one of 300 parliamentary seats.
Candidates have until Jan. 3 to withdraw their candidacies.
Many candidates filed papers to run as independents after failing to get nominations from their respective parties, the Election Commission said.
A 14-party alliance led by the Awami League did not put forward any candidates for about a third of the seats, as part of an understanding with other smaller parties that would boost its support base.
The alliance agreed not to contest 50 seats in favor of a party headed by former military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad, and gave up 29 seats to a new party floated by renegades from its main rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. It also offered some seats to two minor Islamic parties.
Ershad, who spent several years imprisoned on various convictions after being ousted in a popular uprising in 1990, faces a return to jail after an appeal court earlier this month upheld a trial court decision to convict him over a decade-old multimillion dollar corruption case. The court, however, reduced his jail term from three years to two.
Ershad's Jatiya Party has threatened to pull out of the election if his candidacy is rejected by the commission because of his conviction. The highest Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected his appeal against the High Court verdict.
Later Wednesday, election officials rejected Ershad's application to contest polls in four parliamentary seats while his fate for the fifth seat was yet to be decided, the NTV television station reported.
Under the constitution a person jailed for at least two years for a crime involving "moral turpitude" is banned from seeking elected office.
Ershad's Jatiya Party said in a statement that they would stage a general strike Thursday in the four districts where his applications had been rejected. The party will also appeal the decision with the Election Commission.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters attacked the office of the area's chief government administrator and smashed several vehicles on Wednesday in Rangpur, Ershad's hometown, following the rejection of his candidacy, the United News of Bangladesh agency reported.
Top election official Mahfuzur Rahman, meanwhile, met Wednesday with top law enforcers and sought their support for maintaining peace and order during the polls. More than 30 people have been killed and scores injured during two months of repeated strikes and transport blockages staged by an alliance headed by Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina.
A caretaker government is overseeing the elections after Zia's five-year term ended on Oct. 28.
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Associated Press writer Julhas Alam contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-10 19:32 GMT+08:00