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Election Monitoring Forum labels 11th general polls peaceful, fair

  • Published at 07:00 am January 31st, 2019
Election Monitoring Forum (EMF) officials seen addressing the press at the National Press Club on Thursday, January 31, 2019 Mehedi Hasan

However, they find that the newly-formed 11th parliament lacks strong opposition

Election Monitoring Forum (EMF) has labelled the December 30 general election as peaceful and fair, saying that it was held in a festive manner.

The observers also praised the Election Commission’s neutral role in conducting the 11th national polls.

They made the remarks at a press briefing, held at the National Press Club in Dhaka on Thursday morning.

However, they declined to speak about the allegations of what had happened on the eve of voting day.

“The policy for election observers allows us to monitor the election from 7 in the morning and therefore, the comments we are making about the election are based on that,” said Secretary General of Saarc Human Rights Foundation and EMF Executive Director Prof M Abed Ali.

“We cannot, or even, are not allowed to say what happened on the night before the election.”

The EMF is an association of 31 organizations and 26 NGOs registered with the Election Commission.

It deployed 5,811 observers in 239 constituencies, out of 299, and they visited 17,165 centres.

Regarding the violence that took place in different areas on polling day, they said violence was reported from 22 centres across the country where voting was suspended later. The violence claimed 18 lives, while many sustained injuries.

"Except these incidents, the voting process was festive across the country," EMF said.

Abed Ali, however, said that in some of the parliamentary constituencies, the candidates were harassed by the administration in the name of pending cases, which is unexpected, and the Election Commission failed to take speedy measures to resolve those.

The platform has recommended that the Election Commission, law enforcement agencies, and other relevant authorities be stronger and more cordial in discharging their duties to hold free, fair and acceptable elections under a partisan government.

The forum also demanded speedy punishment for people involved in election violence, and compensation for the families of those who lost their lives during the election.

It also requested the Election Commission to make sure that no candidate is harassed during election time in future.

Abed Ali also claimed that comments by Canadian observer Tania Foster, published by Reuters, as well as the statement made by Justice Abdus Salam, published by different media outlets, have been incorrectly reported.

Furthermore, EMF opined that the newly formed 11th parliament lacks a strong opposition, which is a prerequisite for good democratic practices.

He blamed opposition parties for their failure in initiating a movement involving citizens to press their demands for the sorry state of opposition in parliament.

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