Monday, December 17, 2018

EC up for deploying army, against using EVMs in general elections

  • Moinul Hoque Chowdhury,
    Published: 2017-11-13 23:18:13 BdST

Mahbub Talukdar. File Photo

The Election Commission says they will not use the Electronic Voting Machines or EVMs in the next general election, a day after Khaleda Zia voiced her opposition to the use of the machines at a public rally.

Apparently enjoying the BNP’s confidence nine months into its formation, the commission is, however, positive about the deployment of the army surrounding the polls. But an election commissioner would not say if the army will have magistracy power.

“We, including the chief election commissioner, feel that the army should be deployed. But right at this moment we cannot specifically say how we are going to use them and under what process they will be engaged because no discussion on that has taken place so far,” Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar told on Monday. 

“Time will say how the army will be mobilised but we will never say that troops will not be deployed,” he added.

On EVMs, the commissioner said: “Old ones have been out of operation. However, we will try out a few machines, which are still working, in Rangpur and some other city polls.”

“But the commission does not plan to use EVMs in the next parliamentary election,” he went on.

“Currently we lack the preparedness for using EVMs. We want to ensure a fair election which is not possible with faulty machines.”

The BNP, which boycotted the 10th Parliamentary Polls, now wants a ‘polls-time facilitating government’.

Addressing her party rally at the Suhrawardy Udyan on Sunday, BNP chief Khaleda demanded that magistracy power be given to the army deployed during the next parliamentary polls and also called on the commission to ensure that no EVMs are used for balloting.

The EC’s decision on army deployment did not come following Khaleda’s call, said Talukdar.

“The BNP wants army with magistracy power. I do not have anything to say on that. My job is not about responding to any reaction of any political party,” he said.

In its dialogue held with EC on Oct 15, the BNP proposed amending the Representation of the People Order or RPO, a set of electoral rules, to define the armed forces as a law-enforcing agency and give them magistracy power.

But, the ruling Awami League insists on not delegating magistracy power to the armed forces and suggests trying using EVMs in the polls.