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Cablegate: Sreepur, Bangladesh: Ready to Vote

VZCZCXRO0159
PP RUEHCI
DE RUEHKA #0813 2130954
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 310954Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7160
INFO RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 8549
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 2278
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 9788
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 0758
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY 2650
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA PRIORITY 1394

UNCLAS DHAKA 000813

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM PREL BG
SUBJECT: SREEPUR, BANGLADESH: READY TO VOTE

SUMMARY
========
1. (U) Preparations for the upcoming municipal elections in
the Sreepur sub district of Bangladesh are on track. NGOs
and local election officials report few hitches in the run up
to the August 4 poll for mayor and councilors. Political
parties are also confident that the process will proceed
smoothly, focusing on the issues rather than party
affiliation. Nearly 1.4 million Bangladeshis will go to the
polls nationwide in the first test of elections under the
Caretaker Government.

THE MOOD IN SREEPUR
===================
2. (SBU) Sreepur sub district, located in the district of
Gazipur, 1.5 hours northeast of Dhaka is home to over 92,000
residents and nearly 50,000 registered voters. Of the 11
municipalities and two city corporations holding elections in
the nation, Sreepur is the sixth largest. And in 2007, the
National Election Commission kicked off its successful voter
registration drive in Sreepur. NGOs and local officials
agreed that Sreepur had been calm and that there were few
hitches in the preparations for the upcoming election. An
NGO involved in voter education told us there was a high
level of awareness among voters and reported it was free to
conduct its work, except for long standing suspicion from
political parties. According to the local District
Commissioner, the senior government official, political
parties appear to have been following the election code of
conduct. There was no talk of bribery, corruption or voter
intimidation. All sides report they expect the process to go
smoothly.

LITTLE PARTISANSHIP, ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL
==========================================
4. (U) PolOff spoke with the incumbent mayor, from the Awami
League (AL), and his chief opponent, from the Bangladesh
National Party (BNP). Though the candidates openly stated
their party affiliations, neither referenced their party,s
national platform in their campaigns, preferring instead to
run on local issues. Both men also utilized their own
symbols (an umbrella and a pineapple respectively), rather
than that of the AL and BNP in election materials. The BNP
candidate even stated that although he is a BNP man, the
party did not represent his identity. There was a consensus
that campaigns in Sreepur were based on personalities and
local issues related to development like improving
sanitation, roads, providing electricity and building more
schools.

COMMENT
=======
5. (SBU) Sreepur is on track for the August 4 elections. The
focus on local issues appears to be making politicians more
responsive to those they represent.
Pasi

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