Haroon Habib

DHAKA: Bangladesh's volatile political scenario shows signs of more confrontation as the caretaker government has failed to find a solution to effect crucial reforms to the Election Commission which is now set to declare the polls schedule unilaterally.

The country is virtually veering towards uncertainty and chaos as the deadline for meeting the 11-point demand of all political parties, except Ms. Khaleda Begum's BNP and fundamentalist Jamaat-E-Islami, is to end on Sunday.

Even after an emergency meeting of the Council of Advisers with President-cum-caretaker government chief Iajuddin Ahmed on Saturday, the interim administration looked indecisive on the removal of Chief Election Commissioner, Justice M.A. Aziz, and his aides. It is learnt the BNP-led alliance is putting pressure on Mr. Iajuddin to not effect any change to the Election Commission. Coordinator of the 14-party combine Abdul Jalil said, "If Aziz tries to announce any schedule for the election, that will also be the schedule for his departure." A new nation-wide blockade, claimed to be an `all out', will be enforced from Monday. The combine will add removal of Mr. Ijauddin from the post. They charge him with implementing the "BNP-Jamaat agenda."

India's expectations

New Delhi hopes that the people of Bangladesh would participate in the election in a free, fair and peaceful manner.

Acting High Commissioner Sarbajit Chakrabarti told journalists, "We are observing the situation and political developments as a close-door neighbour... We would like to see the people of Bangladesh to join the next general election peacefully and fairly." Mr. Charkrabati invited Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina to attend the Gandhi Memorial Conference in Delhi early next year. He said she accepted the invitation.