Bangladesh had for months been gripped by repeated protests by the Awami League, the main opposition, which accused the election commission of seeking to rig the polls in favour of the outgoing Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

 

A new caretaker government has now taken over and pledged to carry out a number of reforms including reconstituting the election commission to ensure that fresh polls are fair and credible.

 

Mainul Hossain, an interim cabinet member, said he hoped that the resignation of the five commissioners including, Mahfuzur Rahman, the acting chief election commissioner, would bring an end to the problems of the past few months.

 

Other planned reforms include the introduction of transparent ballot boxes, identity cards and the depoliticisation of the civil service.

 

The opposition Awami League and its allies launched a campaign last year to highlight claims that the election commission had drawn up a voter list containing at least 14 million fake names.

  

The campaign, which included national strikes, street protests and blockades, intensified at the end of October after the outgoing BNP handed power to a caretaker government responsible for organising polls within 90 days.

 

At least 45 people have been killed in the past three months and hundreds injured.

 

Western governments and the UN say an election without the participation of all main parties would be unacceptable.

Source: Agencies