Monday 5, June 2023

EC won't pull any one to the nat'l polls: CEC

Time Digital News: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal has said the Election Commission will not force any political party to participate in the elections, referring to the BNP's unwillingness to participate.

"BNP is one of the main political parties in the country. We have no problem with what they want and we have no jurisdiction to interfere in their political strategy. We will not bring anyone to the polls by force," he told reporters at his office in Nirbachan Bhaban in Agargaon of the capital on Monday.

"We want to hold an inclusive election, not a wishy-washy one. Why? Because active and participatory elections bring balance to the field by ensuring healthy competition," he said, calling upon all political parties to trust and assist the Commission.

On Monday the Commission talked with two political parties Jatiya Party and Bangladesh National Awami Party.

The Commission held talks with all registered parties in the country from 17 July to 31 July in phases, but the two parties missed their scheduled meetings. Upon appeal, the Commission rescheduled their meetings for Monday.

In response to a question about electronic voting machines (EVMs), Habibul Awal said, "After scrutiny and trial runs, we have decided to use EVMs for 150 seats and ballot papers for the remaining 150. The decision has been made in a logical manner and not on the basis of party opinions or on our own choice alone."

"But whether it will be possible to implement the plan at all will depend on the availability of machines as most of the parts for the machines will come from abroad," he said, adding that if the plan fails then the Commission will use ballot papers instead.

"Some have noticed a problem in voting by EVMs, as a person stands inside the booth. To solve the issue, we will install CCTV cameras," he said.

"We will assign tough responsibilities to presiding officers. If anyone interferes with the voting process, then the officer will suspend voting immediately and expel that person. If he can't, he will call the police and throw the troublemaker out of the polling station. If the presiding officer allows any interference, then he/she will face punishment," said the chief election commissioner.

On the issue of bringing four ministries, including the home ministry, under the Election Commission during the polls, Habibul Awal said, "The commission taking control of the ministries is not permitted by the constitution. We don't have that power, but we can arrange a fair and inclusive election by exercising the power that we already have."

The CEC also said the final list of voters will be published in March next year.


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