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Fair polls under partisan govt not possible: speakers
Politicians and campaigners for good governance on Sunday said that holding free and fair elections under a partisan government was not be possible in Bangladesh.
At a roundtable on `Amendment to the Representation of the People Order 1972 and Fair Elections' organised by Sushasoner Jonno Nagarik at the National Press Club, they said that there was no alternative to a polls-time non-party government for an acceptable and participatory election.
They alleged that the government was using electoral laws as weapons to control other parties.
Sushasoner Jonno Nagarik secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said that the Election Commission had taken a move to amend the 1972 order which would favour the ruling party while it ignored suggestions made by the other stakeholders.
He said that the government was going to `weaponise legal framework' to use the laws and regulations to create pressure on its political opponents.
He urged the commission to reconsider its recent decision rejecting the applications of different political parties for registration.
He said that the government should play positive role to hold a free, fair and credible election.
Former caretaker government adviser M Hafizuddin Khan urged the government and the commission to ensure a level playing field for all parties.
He said that ruling party people were now working for next general election while opposition activists were on the run to avoid arrest and harassment.
He said that a neutral government should be formed for a participatory general election as there was no example of fair election under partisan government in Bangladesh.
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said that only the will of the government was enough to hold a free and fair election.
He said that all the administration including law enforcement agencies would act positive if the government wanted to hold a fair election.
He urged the commission to drop an existing provision for the submission of signatures of 1 per cent voters by an independent candidate in parliamentary polls.
Green activist Syeda Rizwana Hasan said that a system should be introduced that would relieve the people of fear before and during elections.
Dhaka University professor CR Abrar said that the commission failed to earn people's trust.
He said that the ruling Awami League should take necessary steps immediately for a fair election as the nation did not want to witness violence.
Gana Forum executive president Subrata Chowdhury said that no election under this government would be free and fair.
He urged the government to resign immediately.
Ganasanghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki demanded repeal of the provision for registration of political parties, saying that the law was curbing democratic rights of the people.
The speakers criticized the commission's move for incorporating a provision into the 11972 order provisions for the use of electronic voting machines in the upcoming national polls.
In a written statement Sushasoner Jonno Nagarik coordinator Dilip Kumar Sarkar urged the political parties to hold dialogue to resolve political crisis.
He said that Awami League should take initiative to hold dialogue with other parties to avoid possible unrest ahead of the next general election, likely to be held in December.