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Experts: Restrictions on observers a bad move

  • Published at 10:50 pm November 20th, 2018
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The latest move of slapping restrictions on observers will raise questions over a fair and transparent election, they said

Electoral experts and observers on Tuesday came down heavily on the Election Commission (EC) after it imposed a number of restrictions on election observers on polling day.

The latest move of slapping restrictions on observers will raise questions over a fair and transparent election, they said.

EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed on Tuesday spoke at a meeting of local election observers, telling them they must remain at polling stations as statues, even if they spot irregularities on the polling day.

Observers would not be allowed to talk to media on polling day, cannot carry mobile phones or take photos inside polling centres, he said, adding that: “The job of observers is to watch, observe, and try to understand the situation.”

He also warned them of cancelling their registration if any rule is violated.

Electoral experts said such a move by the commission can raise questions over the neutrality of the election and its transparency, and will make the monitoring role of the observers meaningless.

Former election commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Muhammad Sakhawat Hussain said the election is becoming complicated every day and slapping such restrictions would make its transparency even more questionable.

“Observers watch out and take photos for their own reporting. If they are barred from taking any steps even after witnessing irregularities, how will that work? If this is going to happen, I have no idea how the election can be held in a transparent manner,” he added.

“How do you make election transparent if things are not reported as they happen?” he asked.

Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of Shujan (Citizens for Good Governance), said this move will not yield any positive result, rather will make the role of observers meaningless.

“The role of observers is to prevent irregularities from happening on polling day. But if these are the conditions, then the deployment of observers will be worthless,” he added.

Section 14.7 of the Election Observer Policy states that an observer makes comments that might impede or influence the electoral process in front of the media.