Election Commission to be reformed in February next year
The ruling Awami League has already begun preparations for the next general election, to be held at the end of 2023.
On the other hand, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is focused on ensuring that the polls are held under a neutral government, claiming that a fair election is not possible under the incumbent administration.
The tenure of the current Election Commission will run out in February next year, but both parties have said they are not worried about it. The existing five-member Election Commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner AKM Nurul Huda was instituted through a search committee in 2017.
Prior to leaving the country to attend the UN General Assembly in New York about two weeks ago, Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina instructed party members to begin preparations for the next general election during a meeting at Ganabhaban.
Leaders of the BNP central committee have held several meetings since then.
A joint general secretary of the Awami League on Monday told this correspondent the formation of a new Election Commission had not been discussed at party forums. However, a new EC would likely be formed after discussions with all other parties, as always.
Awami League Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said: “We will now prepare our election manifesto and work towards making the party stronger by the next election.”
BNP Vice Chairman Shamsuzzaman Dudu told Dhaka Tribune it did not matter who was on the next Election Commission.
“The only thing that matters is who is leading the electoral government. If Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina leads the election-time government as she did in 2014 and 2018, then the elections will not be held fairly, as we have seen before,” he said.
Regarding the party’s preparations for the election, Dudu said it was always ready to participate in the polls, but the real question was about the transparency of the polls.
“We do not think a fair election is possible under any political government. A fair election is only possible if an election-time government is set up before the election in the form of a caretaker or neutral government,” he added.
The tenure of the current Election Commission ends on February 15, 2022.
Quader: Who is BNP’s prime ministerial candidate?
Meanwhile, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Monday asked who the BNP’s prime ministerial candidate would be at the next election.
“Our party president, Sheikh Hasina, is the Awami League’s candidate for prime minister. Who is the BNP’s candidate?” he said.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia is currently under house arrest after being convicted in corruption cases. Acting BNP chairperson Tareq Rahman lives in London and also faces corruption charges.
Shamsuzzaman Dudu said: “Khaleda Zia is still our prime ministerial candidate. If she cannot be for some reason, then acting chairperson Tareq Rahman will be the candidate.
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“The Awami League can learn from the last election in Kolkata; Mamata Banarjee is now getting elected as chief minister after the general election in a by-poll. This option is still in our constitution."
When contacted, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan told Dhaka Tribune party leaders were not thinking about the next general election yet.
“We are setting goals to foil this undemocratic government. We believe no fair election is possible under this government. We are not thinking of discussing the election with this government anymore,” he said.