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CEC promises fair polls rising above influence

16 Jul 2017, 21:18 | updated: 16 Jul 2017, 21:20

Online Desk

Dhaka: Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda on Sunday said the Election Commission will be able to fairly hold the next parliamentary elections rising above any influence of the government and other quarters.

"It's not only about government influence, but also about any political party and local and international agencies...we'll be able to fairly hold the election rising above any influence," he told a programme arranged to unveil a booklet of EC's roadmap for the next general election at Nirbachon Bhaban in the city.

The CEC also hinted that the Election Commission has little scope to ensure a level-playing field for all political parties until the election schedule is announced.

"It's not a matter of us (EC), rather of the government who will oversee that which political parties can hold meetings and bring out processions on the streets or not. We're now thinking about only election ...how the election can be made credible," he said.

"We've no role to play here in ensuring the rights of political parties to hold meetings. But the Election Commission will look into any hindrance to any election campaign of any party and intimidation of voters after the announcement of the election schedule," the CEC said responding to a questioner.

"The matter relating to creating the level-playing field will come completely under our jurisdiction with the announcement of the election schedule," he added.

The CEC said both the Election Commission and the government have the responsibility to ensure a level-playing field. "Our responsibility is to make electoral laws and law enforcement agencies neutral for giving equal facilities to all the political parties."

"The legal authority of providing protection to those who will contest the polls will come under our jurisdiction. We'll give protection to all the political parties, their representatives, candidates and voters during the election," Nurul Huda said.

The Commission will seek the government's cooperation if there is any deviation in creating the level-playing field after the announcement of the election schedule, he noted.

Replying to another question, he said it is the matter of the government's political decision over the format of the election-time government.

"It's not for us to speak about the format of the election-time government. There are constitutional and other legal provisions to determine the type of the election-time government."

He, however, said the control of administrative measures, including posting, transferring of civil servants, will be entrusted with the EC from the announcement of election schedule to 15 days after the polls as per the existing laws.

About the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general election, the CEC said the door of EVMs has not been opened and the EC will take the decision about it after receiving opinions from different stakeholders.

The CEC formally unveiled a booklet of the roadmap for the 11th general election. Four other election commissioners were present on the occasion.

Earlier, the Election Commission finalised the roadmap incorporating seven agenda.

The agenda are electoral law reform, making electoral process time-befitting one, delimitation of constituencies, updating the voter list, preparing the list of possible polling stations, inviting application from new political parties to be registered with the EC, and the capacity building of officials for holding the national election.

As per the roadmap, the commission will start dialogue with political parties and other stakeholders on July 31 next.

The dialogue will begin with talks with civil society members. The dialogue with journalists will be held in August, while with 40 registered political parties from August to September next.

Besides, the Commission will sit in separate dialogues with election observers, women leaders and election management experts in October next.

According to the roadmap, the Commission will complete re-demarcation of 300 parliamentary constituencies by December 2017.

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