A H Khan

2018-11-08 05:56:49 BdST

CEC to announce polls schedule today

The Election Commission is set to announce the schedule for the 11th parliamentary elections today, though there were requests from some political parties and alliances, including Jatiya Oikyafront, to delay the announcement of the schedule until the resolution of a prevailing political impasse.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda is likely to announce the schedule in a televised address to the nation at 7pm today.

Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar will simultaneously air the CEC's address to the nation, said an EC handout yesterday.

Private TV channels and radio stations will also air the CEC's address taking feed from the BTV and Bangladesh Betar.

The EC finalised the date of the announcement of the polls schedule at a meeting a few days ago. The political parties went to the EC, seeking a deferment in the announcement of the schedule, citing political dialogues between the ruling Awami League and other political parties and alliances over a political standoff.

The newly formed alliance, Jatiya Oikyafront, which includes the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), met the EC on Nov 5 and requested the commission not to announce the schedule of the 11th parliamentary polls without knowing the outcome of their dialogue with the Awami League set for November 7.

But EC said they would not change the schedule date, which had been fixed earlier. Yesterday, the EC made it known that it would announce the poll schedule on the pre-fixed date, Nov 8.

However, the EC said the election could be deferred, if the political parties end but they had the constitutional obligation to hold the polls before January 28.

On the other hand, the Oikyafront leader, after their meeting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Ganabhaban yesterday, told the media that the poll schedule could be changed. If the EC announced the schedule on Thursday, they organise a march towards the EC office.

The past Election Commission had changed its schedule thrice for the Bangladesh Nationalist Party before the ninth parliamentary election in 2008 over a political stalemate.

However, the Jukta front, a newly formed political alliance led by Bikolpodhara Bangladesh president Prof Badruddoza Chowdhury, on Nov 6 and the Jatiya Party-led Sammilita Jatiya Jote yesterday told the EC not to defer the poll schedule and insisted that the elections be held in time.

Meanwhile, the Sammilita Jatiya Jote, led by Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad, yesterday urged the Election Commission to announce the election schedule by today.

The alliance told the commission the dialogue of the political parties with the government ended on Wednesday and there was no justifiable reason to defer the schedule under the pretext of a dialogue.

Jatiya Party secretary general ABM Ruhul Amin Howlader told the media at the Election Bhaban that they had placed eight points before EC for the holding of free and fair polls.

They demanded the election schedule should be announced on Nov 8, the Army should be used as a striking force, the nomination forms should be simplified, use of black money and illegal arms in the polls must be curbed and electronic voting machines (EVMs) should not be used in elections until winning people’s confidence regarding the machines.

EC held its last meeting with the Awami League delegation, led by HT Imam, a political advisor to the prime minister, yesterday at the Election Bhaban ahead of the poll schedule announcement due on Nov 8.

“The EC has the sole jurisdiction to announce the schedule. We have told them our government will give it full support. We will not tell them to change or delay the schedule,” HT Imam told the media after meeting.

The EC had earlier said the schedule would be announced on Nov 8 and the election day would be set within a period of minimum 45 days after the announcement of the schedule. According to it, the 11th parliamentary polls would be held in the fourth week of December.

The CEC on Tuesday said they wanted to hold the elections by December as severe winter along with thick fog would prevail at the time and there was Ijtema, the biggest Muslim congregation in Dhaka in January.

As the dialogue is now over with the EC, the Commission is moving on its own election plan. Now, the political parties have to make preparations for contesting the elections.

With the election schedule to be announced today, the EC’s biggest challenge would be to ensure a level playing field and bring all political parties to the electoral arena for inclusive and participatory polls.


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