On January 11, 2007, the military-backed interim government took over, primarily, to hold the ninth parliamentary polls that had been scheduled for January 22 that year, but had to be cancelled because of nationwide political turmoil.
The polls were cancelled and a State of Emergency imposed, citing a number of reasons for it. The two leading political parties had taken their mutual animosity to great lengths that resulted in frequent, violent, confrontations. One of the leading political parties, the Awami League, pulled out of the polls. The voter list drafted by the then Election Commission was put under question for being both grossly inaccurate and manipulated. Also, by and large, there were serious concerns over the spread of ‘illicit money,’ which led to the purchase and sale of votes during elections.
The August 4 2008 Municipal and City Corporation elections took place before the
Parliamentary Election despite protests from the political parties and as a result a major political alliance has been forced to take a position contrary to creating an enabling and democratic environment. This has been expressed in their rejection and non-participation in the said election.
As a human rights and political principle, election under Emergency cannot be accepted. To force the people to express or participate in selecting and electing popular representatives and ensuring that mainly those people coming out victorious are those already part of the existing undemocratic and anti-people regime, is contrary to human rights norms and practice. Emergency must be lifted immediately.
Despite our reservation, Odhikar observed the 4 August election closely. It sent Election
Observers who covered polling centres in four cities and collected reports from 107 such centres.
Odhikar also analysed other media reports and concluded that as opposed to what the
Government, its Advisers and others have claimed, “Emergency” failed to provide a fool-proof election, the Election Commission had its fair share of confusion the voterslist was not as flawless as propaganda said it would be and the much trumpeted election rules were flouted, casting doubts on claims that elections to four city corporations and nine municipalities were ‘free’ and ‘fair’.