Washington, DC – IRI fielded two pre-election assessments in Bangladesh from July 31-August 8, 2008, and October 13-21, 2008, to evaluate the state of preparations for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The assessment teams found that the Bangladesh Election Commission will be ready to hold parliamentary elections on December 29, 2008, despite some concerns about a lack of sufficient human resources, particularly in regard to election officers.  IRI noted some irregularities and shortcomings in preparations that can be addressed by better organization and coordination, better training for election workers, including security forces, voter education, and clarification of election laws and regulations.

The August assessment mission coincided with local elections and IRI’s teams were impressed by the high voter turnout, low levels of violence and other disruptions, and widespread acceptance of the results. These factors, coupled with assessment findings and IRI polling data, which indicates that a large majority of the population is very likely to vote on December 29, are critical reminders that Bangladeshi citizens are eager to exercise their right to choose their leaders.

IRI encourages the Bangladesh Election Commission, the Government of Bangladesh, and political parties not to lose sight of the wishes of voters during these critical final weeks before the scheduled December 29 parliamentary elections.

Both assessment teams, composed of IRI staff, met with senior political party and election commission officials in Dhaka, and also deployed outside of Dhaka to interview local-level political party representatives, election officials, government officials, voters, domestic election observation organizations and other election stakeholders.

In addition to meetings with stakeholders, the August assessment team also observed the end of the local election campaign period, Election Day, and post Election Day activities.  The team was deployed in the following locations: Barisal, Khulna, Rajshahi, and Sylhet city corporations, Sitakunda municipality in Chittagong division, Naohata municipality in Rajshahi division, and Sreepur and Manikganj municipalities in Dhaka division.

The October assessment team met with national and local election stakeholders throughout Bangladesh after the parliamentary and local elections were scheduled, but prior to the commencement of the campaign period.

In addition to the two pre-election assessment missions, IRI is fielding two short-term elections observation delegations – one under the auspices of IRI and the other under the auspices of the Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership – and one-long term election observation mission. 

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