'The army is a force to protect the State, it is not a law enforcement agency'
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda on Tuesday said the Commission was yet to decide on whether to deploy troops during the 11th parliamentary elections, a day after one of his colleagues told reporters that the electoral body was favourable to the idea.
“The commission has not taken any decision in this regard. Discussions are underway on if the army will be called up during the time of the polls,” he said.
After the CEC’s attention was drawn to Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar’s recent remarks that the commission could favour military deployment, Huda said: “It was his (Mahbub’s) personal remarks.”
In addition, acting Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said the commission could take the decision on the deployment of troops after announcement of the polls schedule.
“We still have one year in hand (before the election),” he added.
Asked whether the military could be described as a “law enforcement agency” during polls, Helal said Bangladesh’s Constitution, Representation of the People Order (RPO), and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) would all require amendments to define the army as such.
“The army is a force to protect the State, it is not a law enforcement agency,” he added.
Asked about the scope or possibility of empowering the army with magisterial authority during polls as demanded by BNP, he said during previous elections when military was called out, they were deployed as striking forces.
“No election in the country saw the deployment of army with magisterial power,” he said.
Ahmed also said the Commission was yet to take a decision on whether to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the national elections.
“EVMs will be used experimentally in a ward of the next Rangpur City Corporation election, but the decision will be taken later about the application of the device in the national election,” he added.