None will be allowed to manipulate next JS polls: CEC
He says level playing field for parties not possible before election schedule
The Election Commission (EC) is determined not to allow the government, any political party or donor agency to manipulate the holding of the upcoming 11th parliamentary election in a free and fair manner.
"We will be able to conduct a fair election without any influence of the government, political parties or foreign donor agencies or multinational companies. We also expect a participatory election joined by all political parties," said the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda while addressing the launching ceremony of the Election Roadmap for the next national election at the EC Secretariat in the city on Sunday.
The CEC also hinted that the Election Commission has little scope to ensure a level-playing field for all political parties before the announcement of schedule for the next national election.
"It's not a matter for us rather it is the government who will oversee which political parties can hold meetings and bring out processions on the streets or not. We're now thinking about election only and how the election can be made credible,' he said.
'We've no role to play here to ensure the rights of political parties to hold meetings. But the Election Commission will oversee any hindrance to election campaign of any party and intimidation towards voters after the announcement of the election schedule,' the CEC said responding to a questioner.
Replying to another question, he said it is the matter of the government's political decision over the format of the election-time government.
Talking on creating a level-playing field for election, the CEC said EC can do nothing for creating a level-playing field before the announcement of the schedule for the next parliamentary elections.
"Creating a level-playing field before announcement of polls' schedule does not come under the jurisdiction of the EC," the CEC said.
He came up with the remark three days after law enforcers allegedly tried to disrupt a meeting at Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD-Rob) ASM Abdur Rob's Uttara residence where several political party leaders met on Thursday night.
While talking to journalists at the briefing at Agargaon, the CEC further said, "We hope that we can hold the election in a free and fair manner under the present government."
According to the Roadmap, the EC will hold meetings with civil society members on July 31. The EC will sit with journalists in August and with 40 registered political parties from August to September, he added.
Before the meeting, the updating process of voter list will begins on July 25. The voter list will be published on January 31. The EC will also hold talks with the election observer organisations, female leaders and election conducting experts in October.
The re-demarcation process of parliamentary constituencies will begin in August next. The EC will complete the re-demarcation work in April next.
The fixing of polling centre will begin in June next and the draft list of polling centre will be published in July. The registration of political parties will be scrutinized before the next polls.
Addressing the Roadmap launching ceremony, KM Nurul Huda said that the next polls won't be held in free and fair atmosphere with support from all. He is optimistic about holding fair polls with the help of law enforcers and the political parties.
The EC finalised the Roadmap incorporating seven agenda. The agenda are electoral law reform, making electoral process time-befitting one, delimitation of constituencies, updating the voter list, preparing the list of possible polling stations, inviting application from new political parties to be registered with the EC, and the capacity building of officials for holding the national election.
According to the Roadmap, the EC will complete re-demarcation of 300 parliamentary constituencies by December 2017.
EC Secretary Muha-mmed Abdullah moderated the programme. The Election Commission has a constitutional obligation to complete the next parliamentary elections within January 28 of 2019 as the 10th parliament went into its first session on January 2014.
But, it is planning to arrange the polls in late December 2018. As per Article 123 (3) of the Constitution, a general election shall be held within 90 days before the expiration of five-year tenure, he said.
EC will undertake all the possible steps to conduct the upcoming national election in a fair manner, he said.
Kabita Khanam, Mahbub Talukder, Rafiqul Islam and Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury, Election Commissioners and Additional Secretary Mokhlesur Rahman were also present in the programme.