EC formation: President to start dialogue on Dec 20

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Dhaka, Dec 14: President Abdul Hamid will start a dialogue with registered political parties on December 20 next to discuss issues relating to the reconstitution of the Election Commission (EC).

“The President will hold talks with registered political parties before appointing the Chief Election Commissioner and commissioners,” President’s Press Secretary Joynal Abedin told UNB on Tuesday.

The dialogue will formally begin on Monday (Dec 20) with the main opposition (Jatiya Party) in Parliament, he said.

The parties that have representation in Parliament will be invited first to join the talks.

The five-year tenure of the incumbent Commission, led by Chief Election Commission KM Nurul Huda, will expire in mid-February next.

Now there are 39 registered political parties, according to the EC website. But only nine parties have representation in Parliament.

The nine parties are Bangladesh Awami League, Jatiya Party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Bangladesh Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-Jasod, Bikalpadhara Bangladesh, Ganoforum, Bangladesh Tarikat Federation and Jatiya Party-JP.

Contacted, Jatiya Party Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu said their party still did not receive any formal letter for joining the talks.

He, however, said they came to know that the President will sit with Jatiya Party on Mandy afternoon.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said they also still did not get any letter from Bangabhaban to participate in the dialogue.

“If we get any such letter, we’ll make a decision at our party forum whether we’ll join it or not,” he added.

As per the constitution, the EC should be formed under a law, but this law has not been enacted yet in Bangladesh.

The new election commission will have to arrange the 12th national election within November 2023 to January 2024.

Article 123 (3) of the Constitution states that a general election of the Members of Parliament shall be held- (a) in the case of a dissolution by reason of the expiration of its term, within the period of ninety days preceding such dissolution; and (b) in the case of a dissolution otherwise than by reason of such expiration, within ninety days after such dissolution.

On November 18 last, Law Minister Anisul Huq said it would not be right to enact a law for forming the Election Commission in haste.

Earlier, a representative team led by Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of civil rights organization Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), handed over the copy of ‘Draft Election Commission Enrolment Law’.

The Law Minister said, “It won’t be right to put the law into practice sidestepping parliament,” as Dr Badiul Alam suggested promulgating an ordinance to enact the law.

However, the law minister on November 29 said a bill would be placed in parliament in any coming session to enact a law on the Election Commission formation.

BNP has long been demanding the formation of the EC after having in place a non-party polls-time government.

On November 2 last, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said their party has no interest in the formation of the Election Commission through a search committee under the current government.

He said the Election Commission cannot do anything if there is no polls-time neutral government in place.

In December 2016, President Abdul Hamid also held a series of talks with the registered political parties over the EC’s reconstitution and then formed a six-member search committee to recommend names for the CEC and election commissioners.

The search committee sought five names from every political party. The committee later submitted 10 names before President Md Abdul Hamid to appoint CEC and election commissioners among them.

The President finally formed the present commission-headed by KM Nurul Huda. Then the CEC and other commissioners took oath on February 15, 2017.

In 2012, then President Zillur Rahman constituted Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad-led Election Commission also through a search committee after holding meetings with political parties.