EC wary of calling all-party meet

The BNP-led Opposition has said it would stay away from an election held under the present government, while the ruling Awami League appears determined to hold it while in power, in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution.

Election Commissioner Md Shah Nawaz briefed journalists on the issue on Thursday.

“How can we organise a dialogue! The refusal by a party to attend will send a bad message to the people. We don’t want to risk that,” said Shah Nawaz.

Now, the parties will have to give their views on the election code of conduct individually as an all-party meeting looks unlikely.

Political parties had sat with the EC four times to thrash out electoral issues, including an amendment to the law, before the ninth parliamentary election.

So far, the opposition has refused to talk with the current EC on voter list revision and the redefining of election areas.

The Constitution mandates the holding of the 10th parliamentary election by Jan 24 next year. An uncertainty looms over the election as major political parties are yet to agree on a dialogue to determine the form of an election-time government.

BNP, the main opposition party, is demanding a non-party election-time government, while the AL insists that the election be held with the present Parliament in force in keeping with constitutional provisions.

Amid growing concern about whether a free and fair election could be held under a partisan government, the AL altered its stance with the Prime Minister proposing an all-party poll-time government.

The PM repeated the proposal in a telephone conversation with Opposition chief Khaleda Zia, renewing hopes of political reconciliation. But the hopes were soon belied with Khaleda rejecting a talks offer amid the three-day nationwide general strike enforced by the Opposition 18-Party alliance.

The BNP has cautioned the EC against initiating poll preparations, including the finalization of the election code of conduct.

Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed heads the present EC, constituted through a political consensus. Ahmed had earlier hinted at holding a dialogue among political parties to iron out poll issues but has now backtracked.

The Commissioner Shah Nawaz has said the draft of the election code of conduct would be available on the commission’s website.

He said the document would not be officially sent to individual parties, but they could respond to the proposed amendments to the codes online.

“Everybody can give their opinion. They can talk about anything. Those not giving their opinion will be considered to be uninterested in the matter,” said Shah Nawaz.

The amendments have been proposed to ensure a level playing field to all contestants in view of the opposition’s apprehension that a election held under the PM’s proposal would not be fair.

The election code will be available online for a week. It is expected to be posted on the website in the second week of November after being vetted by the Law Ministry.

Sources in the EC believe an election schedule fixed by the second week of November would enable them to hold the election in the first quarter of January next year.

Source: Bd news24

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