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18 August, 2017 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 18 August, 2017 02:16:23 AM
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EC not to mediate between political parties: EC chief

Talks with political parties begin August 24

The Election Commission (EC) will not play the role of a mediator between the political parties to reach a consensus on different topics before the next parliamentary polls, said chief election commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda yesterday. “We don’t want to mediate between the political parties. Many international mediators in the past failed to bring the parties under a single fold. Why should we take the risk to waste time on something so uncertain? It’s none of our business,” he added.

While talking to a number of representatives of the electronic media at the Election Bhaban as part of the election roadmap, the CEC said: “We’ll hold talks with the political parties. But it’ll only be talks. We’ll listen to them and they will listen to us. We wouldn’t create an issue over who would come and who would not.”

In reply to a query on the deployment of the Army during the next polls, he said: “It depends solely on us. We’ll monitor the overall situation and then decide on the matter. If needed, the Army would be deployed, otherwise not.”

Answering another query on holding the next polls under the incumbent government, he said: “The EC is a completely independent body. We’re not under anybody’s control and we’ll not compromise with this. It’s enough to hold free and fair polls.”

When asked what the EC would do if the electoral environment becomes unfavourable to hold a fair poll, he said: “It’s not time to speculate on such matters. But we’re quite confident of managing the polls peacefully. No one has disturbed us yet or demanded anything out of the ordinary.”

He, however, declined to comment on the turnout of a small percentage of voters in the last general election.  When asked if the EC faces any challenge in holding polls under a partisan government, the CEC said: “The EC is a technical office because it holds elections in accordance with the system set up by the government. We play no role in this respect.”

“Once there was a ‘aye’-and-‘no’ voting system, and the EC used to hold elections accordingly. It arranged elections under the caretaker government system when it was in force. At present, polls are held under a partisan government. If a new system is introduced tomorrow, we’ll have to work under it,” he explained.

The EC is pledge-bound to hold free and fair elections. It will not compromise or bow down before anybody, he said.

Nurul Huda also said the EC suffers from weaknesses in implementing the highest punishment of a seven-year jail term for grave offences during elections because of the absence of witnesses. He further said that the country’s democratic system has not matured, as a single polling system is yet to continue beyond a stretch of three general elections.

Earlier, the media representatives suggested that the EC should not take up massive tasks before the next elections, lest it fail to do everything properly. They urged the commission to create a level playing field for all political parties. The  majority of the media representatives was also against full-time Army deployment during the polls.

They urged the EC to remain cautious about the use of illegal money and muscle power and the deployment of observers. They demanded the integration of journalists into the whole election process and offered cooperation to monitor the election centres. They suggested online announcements of election results or the arrangement for a hotline for journalists.  They urged the EC to not retain the ‘no-vote’ option as “it can spread hatred against candidates”.

“The EC has to carry out its duty as per the Constitution and law. The commission would gain appreciation if it maintains the neutrality,” said the chief editor of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS).

Ekattar TV chief editor Mozammel Babu said: “There is no need for Army deployment. It’s not necessary to hold dialogues with political parties to reach a consensus. The EC has to gain the trust of the people. It’s not for the commission to decide who will take part in the elections or not.”

Machhranga TV chief news editor Rezwanul Haque Raza said: “A level playing field is necessary so that all political parties can take part in the polls.”  DBC News CEO Monjurul Islam said: “Observers should be deployed cautiously. The election expenditure should be checked properly.”

News24 managing editor Hasnain Khursid said: “The EC has sufficient power and it must employ it to ensure a fair election. It may not be possible to gain the political parties’ trust, but steps have to be taken to gain the trust of the people.”

Banglavision news editor Mostafa Firoz said: “A series of talks is necessary between the two major political parties.”  

The EC ended the two-day-long dialogue with media representatives yesterday. On 31 July, it had held talks with civil society members. After the dialogue, EC secretary Helaluddin said at a press conference that it will start talks with the political parties on August 24.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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