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Opposing EC in public, BNP getting ready to join its dialogue
Though it has been opposing the KM Nurul Huda-led Election Commission (EC) since its formation, BNP is going to join its dialogue to place the party’s set of proposals, including deployment of army with magistracy power at least one week before the polls.
It also seeks a level-playing field and restoration of the pre-2008 delimitation of 300 parliamentary seats.
Party senior leaders said they have almost completed their all-out preparations, including making the written proposals for ensuring fair polls, to join the EC dialogue.
They said once the party receives the invitation letter from the EC for the talks, a BNP delegation is likely to meet the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) with a request to fix their meeting schedule on a convenient day in September so that their Chairperson can return home from the UK by the time.
BNP standing committee members will hold a meeting before joining the talks to finalise the party’s proposals for the talks and other issues. BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir is supposed to lead the party delegation during the talks with the EC.
The EC will begin dialogue with political parties and other stakeholders on July 31 with talks with civil society members. It will hold talks with 40 registered political parties in August-October.
“Though we’ve many questions about the current Commission, mainly about the CEC, we’ll participate in the talks with the Commission as we still want to help it hold an acceptable and inclusive election,” a BNP standing committee member told UNB wishing anonymity.
After joining the talks, he said they will closely observe the EC’s attitude and actions towards their party’s proposals.
The BNP leader said their proposals may include amending the RPO to define the armed forces as the law enforcement agencies and giving them magistracy power, restoring the pre-2008 delimitation of 300 parliamentary constituencies, empowering the EC to take steps for creating a level-playing field before the announcement of election schedule, keeping some important ministries like Home, Public Administration, Foreign Affairs, Education and Home, under the EC during the polls, not to engage partisan officials in election activities and not to include any controversial and partisan originations and their partisan representatives as election observers.
He said they will also propose making the list of election observers and revealing their identities before the election polls schedule is announced.
Besides, the party is expected to present a strong logic not to use EVM in the polls and the party’s observations and recommendations about voter list updating and some other EC activities.
The BNP leader said they will also propose withdrawal the partisan field-level election officials and engaging them in election activities. “The election officials working in any district for five years must be transferred. The same way, all the UNOs and OCs will have to be changed soon after the announcement of the election schedule.”
He said they will propose taking all-out steps so that the EC can apply its full authority to transfer or appoint election related field-level officials once the election schedule is announced. “We’ll also suggest the EC to move the apex court over some critical issues."
In 2009, the armed forces -- Army, Navy and Air Forces— lost the authority to arrest anyone without warrant on polling day as the Representation of the People Order (RPO) was amended dropping the words ‘ Armed Forces’ from the definition of law enforcement agencies.
Contacted, BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, said, “It’s now more important to resolve the crisis over the election-time government than dialogue with the EC as it won’t be able to ensure a fair election unless a neutral administration is in place to assist it.”
He said they will take the decision about joining the talks once they get invitation from the EC. “As a democratic party, we’re ready to help the EC ensure a fair and acceptable election. We hope the Commission will take proper steps for holding a credible election through talks with the political parties.”
Another BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said though they still did not finalise their decision to join the talks, their party is preparing its proposals to be presented during the talks with the EC.
He said they are making the proposals so that the Commission can hold a fair and neutral election ensuring a level-playing field before and during the polls.
BNP vice chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu said their party is still positive to join the talks with the EC. “We’ll propose a set of proposals before the Commission for holding a neutral and acceptable election.”
Abdur Rahman Jahangir & Muhammad Syfullah, UNB Staff Writers