Rejecting BNP and some other parties’ demand for deferring the municipal elections, the Election Commission (EC) on Monday decided to hold the polls as per the current schedule on December 30 due to legal complications, Agencies report. The EC also did not respond to the demand of ruling Awami League, Jatiya Party and Workers Party for allowing MPs to join the electioneering.
Taking to reporters before leaving his office in the evening, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad disclosed the commission’s decision. Earlier in the day, the EC had a marathon meeting over the demands of the political parties placed on Sunday regarding the municipal elections. After the meeting, a delegation of Workers Party of Bangladesh also sat with the commission and paced their various demands.
“We’ve elaborately discussed the demands of the political parties they placed before us. We’ve actively considered some parties’ demand for allowing MPs to take part in election campaign. But it’s not possible for us to change the election code of conduct at this stage,” Rakibuddin told the journalists. About BNP and some other parties’ demand for rescheduling the polls, the CEC said though they were sure there is no chance to change the election schedule, they discussed whether it will be possible for us to defer the polls even by one day. “But, we didn’t find any room to defer the elections.”
Mentioning that they did not get enough time for the schedule announcement, he said they announced it keeping minimum time for completing all the election process. “So, now there is no further scope for us to reschedule the polls at this stage. If we don’t hold elections under the current schedule, it won’t be possible to arrange that now…we’ll also not be able to follow the legal obligation.”
The CEC said the Commission will gather experiences during this municipal election with a view to applying of the experiences in the next polls. Replying to a question if Bangladesh Jamaat-e Islami can participate in the municipal polls, he said the law is very clear that registered political parties can take part in the polls with their symbols.
“If the registration of any political party is cancelled, it cannot contest the polls using its symbol. Though their party is not banned, they cannot participate in the polls with their symbol,” he added. Meanwhile, an Election Commission press release on Monday said the Commission has taken a number of decisions following the demands placed by Jatiya Party, Awami League and BNP.
The Commission decided that the code of conduct should not be changed at this stage incorporating a provision to allow MPs to participate in the electioneering. There is no scope for extending the deadline for submission of nomination paper by 10 days or deferring the polls by 15 days, the EC said. The Commission has decided that if any allegation is found against any official deployed in the municipal election area, the Commission will withdraw him or her and take action as per law following an instant investigation.
It also imposed the restriction on the participation of ministers, MPs and other VVIPs in the electioneering till the election results are not published in government gazettes. The EC decided that there is no scope for any political party to give its nomination to more than one candidate for each mayoral post as per the Local Government (Municipality) Election Rules, 2010.
During its meeting with the EC, Workers Party of Bangladesh, a partner of the ruling Awami League-led alliance, demanded the Commission reschedule the municipal election to facilitate political parties to complete their preparations to join it. Workers Party, however, placed a demand similar to Awami League for allowing MPs to take part in electioneering in favour of candidates.
On Sunday, Awami League and Jatiya Party demanded the Election Commission to allow MPs to participate in electioneering during the local polls slated for December 30, but BNP demanded not to allow MPs to participate in the campaign. Besides, BNP demanded deferment of the polls by at least 15 days, creating a level-playing field, stopping police harassment of its workers and releasing its detained leaders and activists, including the acting secretary general.
Jatiya Party also demanded the Election Commission extend the deadline for submitting the nomination papers for the municipal polls by at least 10 days from December 3. As per the present schedule, the elections to 236 municipalities out of the country’s 323 ones will be held on December 30.