Dhaka - Political parties in Bangladesh welcomed Sunday the announcement of national and local elections by the chief of the military-backed interim government in an overnight televised address.
Caretaker government head Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed said a general election would be held on December 18 to elect a new parliament, and local elections in more than 400 sub-districts would be held in two phases December 24-28.
"After the announcement of firm dates for the polls there is no confusion and doubt about the intention of the caretaker regime," said senior Awami League official Syed Ashraful Islam.
The elections were announced in the wake of increasing demands from political parties and civil society groups for early transition to democratic rule.
Ahmed was appointed to head an interim government by President Iajuddin Ahmad in January 2007 amid threats of a civil war sparked by a violent standoff between the country's two former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina.
Iajuddin also clamped the state of emergency and stalled the January 22, 2007 general election.
The interim government has been backed by the military which had ruled the country directly for more than a decade. (dpa)