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2 December, 2018 12:50:09 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 December, 2018 12:37:02 PM

Reshuffle admin, stop ‘wholesale’ arrest, BNP asks EC

Guard polling stations, reiterates Dr Kamal
UNB, Dhaka
Reshuffle admin, stop ‘wholesale’ arrest, BNP asks EC

BNP yesterday demanded that the Election Commission immediately stop the 'wholesale' arrest of its leaders and activists, release its arrested men and reshuffle the local administration. "Police drives continue across the country...the wholesale arrest continues. Our leaders and activists can't stay at their houses. But there's no remedy," BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed told reporters after a meeting between a BNP delegation and Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda and his colleagues.

Moudud led the BNP team at the meeting that lasted for over two hours from 3pm at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the city. The BNP leader said their seven probable candidates have already been arrested and sent to jail. "It has become difficult to get bail of our leaders and activists from the lower court as it remains under the control of the government," he added.

"We think there's no minimum environment for holding a fair election in Bangladesh. This atmosphere is getting worse day by day. The Election Commission has failed to resist the government's move to implement its blueprint," said Moudud.

In a letter submitted to EC, BNP also demanded withdrawal of controversial officials of the Election Commission, Public Administration and Home ministries and the Police Headquarters as well as the field-level ones.

"The deputy commissioners, superintendents of police, deputy commissioners in metropolitan areas, who are staying for more than two years in their existing workplaces, must be withdrawn," BNP told the EC.

Besides, all upazila nirbahi officers and officers-in-charge of police stations will have to be transferred, the party said.

About their demand for reshuffle in the administration, Moudud Ahmed said the existing civil administration and police administration are pre-set one by the government.

Deputy commissioners and upazila nirbahi officers are respectively returning officers and assistant returning officers. "Although they belong to the mainstream bureaucracy, they play a very crucial role in the election. Similarly, SPs and OCs also play the important role in the election," he added.

Moudud said all of them -- DCs, UNOs, SPs and OCs -- are working under the government. "A political government is in power now. All ministers and MPs can enjoy all privileges and use their power. So, it'll in no way be possible to ensure a level-playing field in this circumstance," he said.

He said the Commission could have stopped the wholesale arrest and reshuffled the administration to make the polls atmosphere effective.

"The election will finally be a farce. But we don't want the polls to turn into a farce. It's the last test for our nation. If we can't overcome the test, we don't think we'll be able to restore democracy in Bangladesh," he said.

Moudud said the Election Commission assured them of taking measures over their demands.

The BNP delegation members include its election steering committee chief Nazrul Islam Khan, standing committee members Mirza Abbas and Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, and BNP chairperson's adviser Abdul Awal Mintoo.

Our Staff Reporter adds:

A fair election will not be possible if opposition activists continue to be arrested, Jatiya Oikyafront chief Dr Kamal Hossain has said.

“I told the election commissioners and the Prime Minister to stop this spree of arresting opposition leaders and activists. But random arrests are yet to stop. A fair election can't be held in the face of such mass arrests,” he told journalists during a press briefing held at the Jatiya Press Club yesterday.

Dr Kamal Hossain reiterated his call to the people to guard the polling centres so that the parliamentary election, slated for December 30, can be held in a free and fair manner.

“As the owner of the state, the people must guard the polling centres to hold the election in a credible manner,” he said.

The people want a change through a neutral and fair election, he also said.

“I have seen in newspapers that opposition leaders and activists are being put behind bars. I call upon the voters to take precaution and cast their votes early in the morning. Come to the voting centres with your neighbours,” he added.

Dr Kamal Hossain urged the people to unite with the spirit of 1971.

The Oikyfront chief said he believes that a free and fair election is an essential aspect of a country's independence and sovereignty. “If the right to vote cannot be exercised through a free and fair election, the very independence of the country is at stake,” he continued.

Regarding the embargo imposed by the Election Commission (EC) on taking photographs in voting centres, Dr Kamal Hossain said: “It's an ethical matter. Such embargo is illogical as there are laws in the country. We think such embargo should be withdrawn. We will move to the court against the EC’s decision in this regard.”

He also said all presiding and polling officers should perform their duties impartially for holding a free, fair and credible election.

When he was asked if any conspiracy has been preventing him from taking part in the polls, Dr Kamal Hossain said: “The word ‘conspiracy’ is very much in use here. I feel annoyed with this word. You know I am 80 years old. I am the only surviving member of Bangabandhu’s cabinet."

"I didn’t take part in the national polls in 2008. There are now many competent persons and politicians, so I have decided not to contest the polls,” he added.

“We must remain aware to protect the election process from any kind of obstruction," the Oikyafront leader noted.

He said they want people to actively take part in governing the country. “The responsibility doesn’t end only with casting your vote,” he added.

If the country’s owners do not elect their representatives properly, the entire nation will be deprived of good governance, constitutional rule and basic rights, he said, adding that everyone will have to come forward considering it as a responsibility.

He also said all the Oikyafront partners are aware of the vital importance of nominating the best and worthiest candidates in the polls.

He further said a single list of candidates of the Jatiya Oikyafront will emerge after the scrutiny of the nomination papers. “My prayers will be with all our candidates for their success and the victory of our people,” he added.

BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Krishak Sramik Janata League president Bangabir Kader Siddiquee, Gonoshasthya Centre’s founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury and Oikyfront leader advocate Subrato Chowdhury were present during the press briefing.




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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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