Seventy senior police officials are among those who the opposition alliance thinks should be pulled from polls duty
Ahead of the 11th general election, scheduled for December 30, Jatiya Oikya Front has demanded the immediate withdrawal of 92 top officials of public and police administrations from polls duty.
The opposition alliance made the demand by submitting lists of the officials to Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed at the commission office in Dhaka’s Agargaon on Thursday afternoon.
A delegation led by BNP Joint Secretary General Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal handed over 13 letters, which included the lists and were signed by BNP Secretary General and coalition spokesman Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, containing their demands and observations for a level playing field needed for the polls.
Seventy of the 92 officials, who Oikya Front thinks should be withdrawn, are from police. They include four additional inspectors general, 17 deputy inspectors general (DIGs), seven additional DIGs and superintendents of police from different districts.
The rest 22 officials are from public administration. They include Helal, Public Administration Ministry’s Secretary Faiz Ahmed, Home Ministry’s Public Security Division Secretary Mostafa Kamal Uddin and the deputy commissioners (DCs) of 19 districts.
The coalition urged the commission not to engage these officials in election duties as they would not be able execute their duties impartially due to their affiliation to a particular political party.
According to the lists, of the DCs, 18 were involved in the past with Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student wing of Awami League. Two of them are leaders of Chhatra League’s Dhaka University unit and four are children of former ruling party leaders or MPs.
Talking to reporters, BNP leader Alal said that they demanded the immediate withdrawal of these officials as they were “busy obstructing the process to ensure a level playing field."
“We have asked the commission to take action to prevent the recurrence of such wrongdoings in future.”
He said they also submitted detailed information to the commission about the police officials who they think should be pulled from electoral responsibilities.
One of the letters submitted Thursday also quoted anonymous sources as accusing Election Commission Secretary Helal of threatening polling officials by summoning them to the commission’s office in Dhaka and showing report from intelligence agencies.
“The level playing field is yet to be created. We have promised to participate in the election. But it seems like that all they are doing is trying to keep us away from the election,” Alal said.
He said Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda on Thursday called upon police officials to remain neutral during the polls, but the commission has the authority to give them direct orders.
Asked about the CEC’s claim that Oikya Front was making random complaints, Alal said: “We do not. We make complaints against those who have breached the law and the electoral code of conduct.”
He added that the Election Commission had already given many directives, but none of these were implemented yet. “We want full implementation of all the orders.”
Breach of code
BNP leader Alal on Thursday also claimed that some government and commissioner officials were carrying out activities that go against the electoral code of conduct after the election schedule was announced.
"We have presented some documents in this regard and sought preventive measures," he added.
He alleged that some “controversial” officials at the National Telecom Monitoring Centre and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission had blocked Skype and internet services around their chairperson's Gulshan office, because their acting chairperson Tarique Rahman was interviewing the party's nomination seekers via videoconference from London.
"It was also a violation of the election code of conduct," Alal claimed.
He said that police were still arresting BNP leaders and activists, including nomination hopefuls, across the country.
He added that the Election Commission had instructed all to remove election campaign materials, including posters and billboards, but many city areas were still replete with posters of “boat” and “plough,” which are the electoral symbols of the ruling Awami League and its ally, Jatiya Party.
"We have placed enough documents before the commission in this regard and demanded necessary action."
Alal said various city corporations and other government organizations were still carrying out campaigns in favour of Awami League in the name of development.
"We have urged the commission to put a stop to this immediately,” he added.