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EC talks on next polls from 30 July

WT24 Desk

The election commission (EC) has planned to sit in talks with 40 registered political parties from 11 September next to discuss the preparations for the next parliamentary polls, Agencies report.

The EC secretariat has worked out a timeline for holding talks with different stakeholders as part of the roadmap it prepared for 11th general elections, which are likely to be held in late December, 2018.

“The dialogue is likely to begin on 30 July next with talks with civil society members,” said EC secretary Muhammad Abdullah, adding that the EC secretary is now preparing the agenda of the meetings.
The then commission will hold talks with election observers on 8 to 10 August, journalists on 16-17 August and election experts on 22-24 August.

The EC will sit in two separate meetings with two political parties in one day. The first meeting will be held from 11:00am to 1:00pm, while the second one from 3:00pm.

The EC secretary said only political parties registered with the commission will be invited to join the dialogue. Former election commissioners will also be invited to attend the dialogue as election experts, he said.

The commission in a meeting will finalise the timetable for the dialogue and the agenda on 16 July next, Abdullah added.

The meeting will also finalise seven plans of the 11th national election roadmap and publish a book on the roadmap. Subsequently, the books will be provided to all political parties and participants of the talks, said the EC secretary.

EC officials said the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), electoral law reform, and delimitation of constituencies will be on top of the agenda.

The EC will also seek suggestions from the stakeholders over making nomination submission online, re-fixing the ceiling of election expenditures, curbing the abuse of muscle power and illegal money in election, they said.

In the talks, the commission will place the proposed amendments to the Representation of the People Order (RPO) 1972 and five other electoral laws to seek opinions and suggestions from the stakeholders.

The five other laws are the election conducting rules, the code of conduct for political parties and candidates, the Independent candidate (examining support for candidates) rules, the Election Officials (Special Provision) Act and the Delimitation of Constituencies Order 1976.

The present election commission, headed by KM Nurul Huda, wants to bring amendments to the electoral laws considering opinions of the stakeholders ahead of the next general election.

In 2011, the ATM Shamsul Huda-led commission held dialogues with registered political parties seeking their opinions over EVMs, delimitation of constituencies, proposed law for appointment of CEC and election commissioners, ceiling of election expenditure and some other issues.

But, the then opposition in parliament Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies boycotted the talks alleging that the EC was biased towards ruling Bangladesh Awami League party.

The immediate past Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad-led commission did not held any dialogue with political parties before the 2014 parliamentary elections.

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