Thursday, October 18, 2018

BNP demands army deployment in DNCC by-polls; CEC says no bar on Khaleda’s campaign

  • Senior Correspondent
    Published: 2018-01-10 00:04:43 BdST

Fakhrul Islam Alamgir

The BNP has demanded deployment of the army in Dhaka North City Corporation mayoral by-election, raising the question of impartiality of Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda again.

Huda, however, after announcing the schedule of the by-election on Tuesday, called on all the political parties for help to hold a free and fair election, saying everyone would be given equal opportunities in the polls.

Later in the day, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam told reporters after a programme in Dhaka: “We surely want deployment of the army from a week before the polls.”

He also said they did not change their view about the current Election Commission.

“The process of forming the EC was not right for the involvement of fewer non-partisan people, especially, the CEC is not an impartial person,” he said.

The BNP leader, however, hoped the EC would take steps to hold free and fair elections by implementing all the necessary laws.

He was speaking to the reporters after attending a Namaz-e-Janaza of the party’s National Executive Committee and former commissioner Md Abdul Mazid in front of the party headquarters in Naya Paltan.

Mirza Fakhrul also said they would finalise the name of their candidate at a meeting of the National Standing Committee expected to be held on Jan 13.

On Monday night, the BNP-led 20-Party Alliance decided to nominate a single candidate from the alliance and gave BNP chief Khaleda Zia the task to choose the candidate. 

The BNP’s key partner the Jamaat-e-Islami had earlier announced that its leader Selim Uddin would fight as the party’s mayoral candidate in the polls and started the campaign. 

Mirza Fakhrul, however, thinks that the Jamaat, with its registration cancelled,  would support the 20-Party Alliance candidate in the election.

According to the schedule announced by the EC earlier in the day, the voting will be held on Feb 26 while the deadline to submit nomination papers is Jan 18.

BNP backed Tabith Awal in the 2015 elections to Dhaka North City Corporation. Awami League-supported Annisul Huq won the election after the boycott by the BNP halfway through the voting. The DNCC mayor’s post fell vacant at the death Annisul Haque on Nov 30 last year.

The political parties can nominate their candidates directly for the mayor’s post now after changes in local government election law.

After announcing the schedule, the reporters asked CEC Huda whether BNP Chairperson Khaleda, who does not hold any government post now after the boycott of the 2014 parliamentary election, can take part in the DNCC polls campaign.

“There is no question of barring her. We have no objection to her campaign for her party candidate,” he said.   

He said the EC was taking the DNCC mayoral by-polls ‘seriously’ ahead of the next parliamentary elections.

“It’s a challenge for us. That’s why the law enforcing agencies, magistrates and others will be more active (to hold a free and fair election),” he said.

He hoped the election would be held with festivity.