EC itself violates electoral law
The election commission has violated the electoral law in the election schedule it announced on Thursday.
The commission ignored the request of the major opposition coalition to defer announcement of the schedule until a political consensus is reached but fixed the last date for filing nomination papers on 19 November, only 11 days within the announcment.
As the commission set 29 November as the last date for withdrawal of nomination, the candidates will be left with 23 days before the voting on 23 December.
However, a party or a candidate cannot start electioneering campaign before 21 days from the voting day, according to section 12 of the electoral code of conduct.
So, the commission’s schedule that has allowed the aspiring candidates to campaign for 23 days for the ballot, has effectively violated the electoral law.
“The election commission has to fully comply with the electoral law. There is no scope to interpret the law in a different way [than what it actually is],” former election commissioner Sakhawat Hossain told Prothom Alo.
Sakhawat, a retired brigadier general who served the commission during the 2008 elections, insisted that the election campaign should in no way start before 21 days from the voting day.
As per current schedule with voting on 23 December, the candidates will get two days more than normally permissble time for campaigning.
Expressing no regret, EC secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed claimed that the power of the commission is unlimited. “Thing will go on as per the decision of the election commission,” he said.
Sakhawat Hossain said, “If the commission does not abide by the law, why will the others follow it? If the commission wants to extend the number of days for campaign, it must amend the law,” he added.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla online, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam