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UN volunteers join observation of electoral process in Bangladesh

UN volunteers join observation of electoral process in Bangladesh

Two dozen United Nations volunteers from across Western Europe today began work as long-term observers in the run-up to Bangladesh's parliamentary elections slated for 1 October.

Working as European Union observers, the volunteers, who hail from 11 different countries, will monitor the conduct of voter registration and pre-election campaigning, according to the Bonn-based UN Volunteers (UNV), a subsidiary body of the UN created in 1970 as an operational programme in development cooperation. Among other duties, the volunteers will observe the training of electoral officers, the processing of complaints and the fairness of news coverage by the State-owned television, radio and print media.

In addition to selecting members of Parliament, the elections will also determine Bangladesh's next prime minister, as former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vacated office on 15 July. According to UNV, some 75 million Bangladeshis - more than half the country's population - are listed as eligible voters. The European Union, as part of its support to the electoral process at the request of the Dhaka Government, is funding the long-term observer mission under a project supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The UN Volunteers in Bangladesh come from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.