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Bangladesh Election Commission rejects ex-dictator's appeal to contest upcoming polls

Bangladesh Election Commission rejects ex-dictator's appeal to contest upcoming polls

The Bangladesh Election Commission on Sunday dismissed an appeal by former military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad to run in Jan. 22 national elections, officials said.
Local election officials on Wednesday deemed Ershad ineligible to run for Parliament because he recently lost an appeal of a three-year prison sentence in a decade-old corruption case.
"The appeal is dismissed," top election commissioner Mahfuzur Rahman said after hearing Ershad's petition.
Sheikh Sirajul Islam, a lawyer for Ershad, said he would appeal the ruling in a court. Ershad's Jatiya Party supporters have threatened to boycott the elections if he is not allowed to run.
Islam said the election commission should not have rejected Ershad, since he planned to petition the Supreme Court over the appeal court ruling.
In 1995, a trial court sentenced Ershad to three years in jail for misappropriating 330 million takas (then worth about US$6 million) in a deal to purchase 520 Japanese boats in 1989.
The appeal court in December reduced his sentence to two years.
Under the country's constitution, a person jailed for at least two years for a crime involving "moral turpitude" is banned from seeking elected office.
In a pre-election deal to gain extra support, a 14-party political alliance led by the Awami League agreed not to field candidates against Ershad's Jatiya Party in 50 seats.
There was no immediate reaction Sunday from the alliance.
Most of Bangladesh was closed until Wednesday for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. But the Election Commission stayed open to review appeals by candidates seeking to contest the Jan. 22 polls, said election official Abdur Rashid Sarkar.
Alliance leader Sheikh Hasina earlier said the rejection of Ershad's candidacy was politically motivated because he had refused to join a rival coalition headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.
Hasina has accused the election commission of favoring Zia's coalition.
The alliance has vowed to hold nationwide road and rail blockades on Jan. 7-8 to force electoral changes, including an update of a flawed voter list.
It has also threatened to boycott the elections if the interim government does not "create a congenial atmosphere" for holding free and fair polls.
The alliance accuses the country's acting leader, President Iajuddin Ahmed, of running the government under the influence of Zia, who stepped down Oct. 28 at the end of her five year-term on Oct. 28.
Last week, Ershad's supporters staged violent street protests in his home district of Rangpur, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of the capital, Dhaka.
Ershad, a former army chief who grabbed power after a 1982 coup, has been in and out of jail on various charges since being ousted in a popular uprising in 1990. He was also barred from contesting the last polls in 2001.


Updated : 2021-06-21 08:25 GMT+08:00