Observers from Washington are preparing to travel to Bangladesh to monitor the scheduled Dec. 29 national elections, as the military-backed caretaker government this week announced an end to nearly two years of a state of emergency.
The International Republican Institute (IRI) has already sent a team of 26 observers to check on pre-election conditions in the South Asian nation and plans to send more representatives to monitor the polls on election day.
“The IRI-sponsored observation mission will meet with leaders and officials from political parties and domestic and international nongovernmental organizations, as well as with government officials, election administrators and Bangladeshi citizens,” the think tank said in announcing its election team.
Meanwhile, the International Crisis Group (ICG) urged Bangladesh’s Electoral Commission to open a public awareness campaign to inform citizens on voting procedures and deploy security officials to protect polling places.
In assessing the two major political parties, the ICG noted that the Awami League is “eager to contest the polls promptly,” while the Bangladesh Nationalist Party is in “disarray.”
The interim government, which will allow the parties to begin campaigning Friday, promised to lift all restrictions by next week. It imposed a state of emergency in January 2007 after widespread political violence.