Saturday, November 25, 2017

AL proposals to Election Commission run counter to major BNP recommendations

  • Kazi Mobarrak Hossain, Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2017-10-17 15:29:44 BdST

bdnews24

The ruling Awami League party’s reform proposals to the Election Commission, or EC, will directly contradict the BNP’s recommendations on the election-time government, constituency boundaries, army deployment and electronic voting machines, or EVMs.

A 21-member Awami League delegation led by the party’s General Secretary Obaidul Quader and Advisory Council member HT Imam will speak to the Election Commission at 11am on Wednesday, said Awami League leader Reazul Kabir.

Quader says the ruling party will submit a total of 11 proposals to the EC for the upcoming 11th parliamentary elections.

A 16-member BNP delegation led by the party’s Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir spoke with the ECon Sunday and presented the party’s 20-point proposal, which included 66 recommended changes.

According to Awami League leaders, some of the proposals match those of the BNP, such as the inclusion of Bangladeshi expatriates in voter lists and ensuring their ability to vote, making the voter list error-free, and ensuring a neutral administration for fair elections.

Election-time government

On Sunday, the BNP proposed the dissolution of parliament prior to the announcement of the election schedule in order to create a ‘supportive government’ for the election.

The BNP boycotted the 10th parliamentary elections in 2014 protesting the Awami League’s refusal to transfer power to a caretaker government before the polls.

In 1996, Awami League protests led to the adoption of a caretaker government law by the then BNP administration. Caretaker governments then oversaw the 1996, 2001 and 2008 polls.

The law was later abandoned in 2011 by the Awami League.

The EC follows the constitution in this regard. While the BNP has sought a return to the caretaker government model, the Awami League says the constitution should be followed, allowing the current government to remain in power during the next elections.

Constituency demarcations

The BNP has demanded a return to the pre-2008 constituency demarcations.

The EC implemented new constituency boundaries in 2012, enacting small changes for the 10th parliamentary elections.

“The constituency boundaries have been changed according to the census,” said Awamiu League Joint General Secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif. “As there is no census prior to the next elections it is impossible to change the demarcations at this time.”

Electronic voting machines

The BNP has consistently opposed the adoption of EVMs for the electoral process and has continued to do so.

The BNP says every EVM-based election around the world has led to allegations of fraud.

But, according to Awami League Presidium member Abdur Razzak, the party will recommend the use of EVMs.

“We have put forward this idea before. This is a transparent process. We will recommend the EC uses EVMs for the next elections.”

“EVMs allow quick, error-free vote counting,” said Mahbub-Ul Alam Hanif. “This could prevent ballot box stealing. So we will propose it.”

Army deployment

The BNP has proposed deploying the army with magistracy powers during the vote.

The Awami League, however, will call on the EC to abstain from army deployment.

“The election should be held according to the constitution,” an Awami league leader told bdnews24.com. “Where does it say the army should be deployed?”

The EC meeting with the Awami League will close out the electoral overseers’ discussions with the registered political parties on Wednesday.