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CEC moves to heal rift with commissioners
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda has finally moved to end his ‘go alone’ policy that used to leave the four other election commissioners in the dark while running the EC.
The move came on October 2 when the Election Commission Secretariat in an office order said there were deviations from rules and regulations in running the activities of the EC secretariat and the four commissioners noticed that. The EC directed the authorities to run the secretariat's activities in line with the rules and regulations, the order added.
Before the issuance of the order, the CEC on the same day had invited the commissioners to tea at his office room.
Sources at the EC have confirmed the issuance of the order.
Distance had been growing between Huda and other commissioners over the former's ‘unilateral decisions’ on different important activities.
The rift came into the open after the four election commissioners last month had sent ‘unofficial notes’ to the EC secretariat expressing their disappointment at its functions.
The four election commissioners are Rafiqul Islam, Mahbub Talukder, Kabita Khanam and Sahadat Hossain Chowdhury.
EC sources said distance between the CEC and the commissioners widened over holding of the 9th meeting of the Forum of the Election Management Bodies of South Asia in Dhaka on September 5 as the election commissioners' opinion about the event was not sought.
None of the four election commissioners took part in a training workshop of EC officials in the capital's Nirbachon Bhaban on September 22 as they were ‘not informed’ about the programme. The CEC was present at the event.
Besides, opinions of the four election commissioners regarding the important workshop ahead of the upcoming general election were not taken. The next parliamentary polls are likely to be held in late December.
Some election commissioners alleged that the CEC and the EC secretary took some important decisions and carried out some activities avoiding them.
The commissioners also sent ‘unofficial notes’ to the EC secretariat pointing that some EC rules were being violated in running the EC's activities.
‘All decisions of the Election Commission should be taken on the basis of majority opinion. In many cases this rule was not followed, an official of the EC secretariat quoted an unofficial note as saying.
In the unofficial notes, the commissioners said as per rules, they were supposed to know about all the EC decisions. But the commission took several decisions after receiving the CEC's approval and they were not aware of those.
The election commissioners also asked EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed to produce all important files of the commission before them. They also wanted to know about the EC's election preparations, different activities of its secretariat and its various projects, sources said.
On condition of anonymity, an election commissioner yesterday said he didn't know anything about the EC's proposal to buy electronic voting machines (EVMs) worth Tk 3,800 crore.
Another commissioner said he was in the dark about the field level visits of election officials ahead of the upcoming national election and several other election-related issues.
Journalists often question us about different activities of the election preparation, EVM project and visits of election commissioners. But I cannot answer them [journalists] as I am in dark about those issues.
He said he asked the EC secretariat to inform him about the commission's functions.
The present election commissioners, led by the CEC, had taken office in February last year.
Sources at the EC said Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder in July last year first sent an ‘unofficial note’ regarding a reshuffle in the EC secretariat.
On August 30 this year, he wrote a note of dissent on the EC's proposal to seek amendment to the Representation of the People Order for using EVMs in parliamentary polls.