Expressing their willingness to provide all kinds of technical assistance to hold the next general elections in a free and fair manner, UN Resident Coordinator Robert De Watkinson has said the responsibility to determine the framework for an election-time government is not under the purview of donor countries and agencies.
The onus to decide on this lies only with the government. There have been specific laws in place, and holding a free and fair election by these laws is possible, he hoped.
Watkinson, however, added that participation of all parties was a key to holding a fair election.
He was addressing a joint press after holding a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda at the Election Commission office in Dhaka on Tuesday. The four election commissioners and other officials attended the meeting, where Watkinson led a delegation of around 20 representatives from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, China, France, EU, Germany, India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Turkey.
Huda said: “The Election Commission has had the history of holding free and fair elections. An election can be conducted in a free manner only when it a participatory one. So it is possible to hold such an election if all parties participate in it.
“We have to reform laws, demarcate constituencies, update voter lists, and reorganise polling centres.”
Asked about the meeting’s agenda, the chief election commissioner said the donor partners wanted to know if the EC had the capacity to conduct a fair election.
He said: “Our answer was that we have a lot of laws. In the past, there have been many examples of free and fair polls held by the Election Commission.
“They did not discuss the use of electronic voting machine in the polls but asked about the election-time government. We said the commission has nothing to do in this connection. The government will decide on this.”
Technical support apart, Huda said they needed need financial support to purchase iris and ten-fingerprint scanners in order to expedite distribution of smartcards among voters.
“On the other hand, extensive campaigns will be conducted about dos and don’ts of candidates and voters before the election,” the chief election commissioner added.