Friday, April 19, 2019

CEC Huda urges political parties to end differences and join December election

  • Senior Correspondent
    Published: 2018-11-08 22:35:46 BdST

CEC KM Nurul Huda announcing the election schedule.

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda has called for political parties to sink their differences and take part in the 11th parliamentary elections slated for Dec 23.

The CEC announced the roadmap to the election in his televised address to the nation on Thursday. Candidates have until Nov 19 to submit nominations and the date for the withdrawal of candidacy has been set at Nov 29.

The opposition BNP and its allies had boycotted the 10th parliamentary election held in 2014, citing the absence of a non-partisan government. Their demand remains the same for this year’s election as well.

To iron out a series of thorny issues in the run-up to the election roadmap, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sat in a crucial dialogue twice with the Jatiya Oikya Front, an alliance of six parties.

Both camps remained miles apart on the release of BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and six other demands.

But the Awami League continued rejecting the pleas, arguing that the election must be held in line with the constitution, which allows her to be in power during the polls. Hasina also argued that instructing the judiciary to free Khaleda will mean curbing its freedom.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke to Oikya Front chief Dr Kamal Hossain after the second round of talks on Wednesday. Photo: PID

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke to Oikya Front chief Dr Kamal Hossain after the second round of talks on Wednesday. Photo: PID

The Oikya Front also demanded the Election Commission defer the election and the announcement of the schedule. The ruling Awami League, on the other hand, urged the EC to stick to its plan.

The EC says it is a constitutional binding to hold the election by Jan 28, as the countdown to the polls has already began.

In his speech announcing the schedule, CEC Huda hoped all the parties would settle the issues “politically” by showing tolerance.

“We expect the political parties to act responsibly to avoid acts of vengeance and violence stemming from competition,” he said.

He urged all political parties to take part in the election to continue Bangladesh’s “development efforts and put democracy on a stronger footing”.

“I believe the enthusiastic presence of supporters prevents irregularities in an election fiercely contested by all the political parties,” he argued.

EC meeting with the AL

EC meeting with the AL

EC meeting with the Oikya Front

EC meeting with the Oikya Front

Huda also pledged a series of measures to even the playing field.

In his speech, he ordered the law enforcers to ensure that no voter, politician, supporter or polling agent faces harassment or cases without a genuine reason. 

EC will take action to ensure that all the people can practise their right to vote without any hindrance, stay at home safely after the balloting and equal opportunities for all the parties and candidates in campaign, according to the commission’s chief.

The CEC warned the political parties, candidates and their supporters against violation of the electoral laws and code of conduct.

He said the political parties had already started preparing for the vote while analysts and experts are expressing their views and recommendations, TV stations are airing talk shows, newspapers are running special stories, and many local and foreign organisations have expressed eagerness to observe the election.

“Overall, an atmosphere favourable to the parliamentary election has been created in the country.

“Amidst the cheerful preparation, I hope, request and demand that the candidates and their supporters follow the electoral laws and code of conduct,” he said.

“We will succeed in holding a free, fair and acceptable election with all as the nation waits with deep interest,” he concluded with optimism.