The BNP has called for deployment of the armed forces in Dhaka and Chittagong City Corporations polls scheduled for April 28.
A BNP delegation raised the demand during a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad at the Election Commission Secretariat yesterday.
But the CEC said the decision to deploy army would be taken at a meeting with the law enforcement agencies on April 19.
He also said the deployment of army would depend on the situation during the polls.
The seven-member BNP delegation was headed by the party’s Standing Committee member ASM Hannan Shah and Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar. Other members included Musfiqur Rahman, Syed Sujauddin Ahmed, HM Abdul Halim, Abdur Rashid and ABM Abdus Sattar.
Hannan briefed reporters about the meeting around 4:45pm while the CEC did so around 6pm.
“In order to hold the elections in a free and fair manner and ensure level playing field for all candidates, the Election Commission should deploy army in the city corporations areas,” said Hannan, adding that a 14-point demand was placed at the meeting.
“Other demands included unlocking the gate of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s office and other party offices, releasing BNP activists detained in false cases on bail and stopping harassment of activists now on bail. The CEC assured us of fulfilling the demands,” he said.
Speaking about arresting BNP activists as unidentified accused, Jamiruddin said: “If ten people are named in a case and another 2,000 are included as unnamed accused, and if police are going to arrest BNP activists as the latter then how the elections will be held? We sought the CEC’s cooperation regarding this.”
But the CEC said this was a legal matter.
“The BNP wants their members to be granted bail. There will be two different situations if they are granted bail and if they are not. Because these are legal issues, they should be resolved accordingly,” he said.
Replying to a question over his party’s current stance on the upcoming polls, Hannan said: “Our satisfaction depends on the action that the authorities concerned are going to take.”
“Our demand is that the polling officer should not be from any specific party and no controversial person should be recruited as polling officer either,” he said.
The CEC in his response said actions would be taken against any polling officer if specific complaints against him were lodged.
Hannan said the delegation had asked for the Election Commission’s cooperation so that BNP candidates were able to conduct election campaigns without facing any obstacles. “Otherwise, how are they supposed to reach to the voters for gaining their supprt?”
He also said nomination papers of BNP leaders Abdul Awal Mintoo and Nasir Uddin Ahmed Pintu were cancelled because of printing mistakes.
“The CEC told us he would exclusively consider the matter.” said Hannan.
But the CEC said candidates whose nominations were cancelled should take the next steps according to what they are obliged to do by law.
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