International observers want to observe polls

International observers want to observe polls

Diplomatic Correspondent . Dhaka | Prothom Alo Nov 23, 2018

International election observers have shown interest in observing the upcoming national elections after the opposition alliance Oikya Front, which includes BNP, has announced its intention of joining the polls.

Various international organisations and countries have already communicated this interest to the election commission in Bangladesh.

EC officials on Thursday told Prothom Alo that different organisations including the US based election observer group IRI and foreign embassies started to contact the EC early this month. The process may gain momentum from next month.

Besides, Bangkok based Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL), and the embassies of France and Japan have also shown interest in observing the election. Some other countries have also contacted the EC over the last two weeks in this connection.

However, the commission has set certain new guidelines for the international observers for the first time this year.

The guidelines ‘highly discourage’ live telecasting from the polling center or live on Facebook/twitter  or  any  other  social media. The observers are asked to maintain strict political impartiality and always display the identification cards provided by EC. International observers are also asked not to obstruct the election process and not to enter the booths reserved for casting ballots. Only one representative of an observer group can be present during the vote counting.

The observers should apply to the commission and the commission will forward the application to the home and foreign ministries following scrutiny.

A senior official of EC on condition of anonymity said that different local and foreign organisations invite Bangladesh Election Commission on different occasions. The EC will invite those organisations alongside representatives of South Asian countries. The commission is also planning to invite organisations such as the Commonwealth which does not join the process without invitation.

Normally the foreign ministry cooperates with the EC in this process of bringing in international observers. But the ministry is yet to start working on this.

A senior official of foreign ministry said, a cell is formed before the election to facilitate international observers’ participation. But no such cell has been formed yet, the official said, adding that the process may start after a decision from a high level of the government.

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