The countdown to choose the 21st president of Bangladesh will begin tomorrow with an election to be held within a month, according to the terms of the constitution.
The tenure of incumbent Abdul Hamid will end on April 23, five years after he was sworn in as the country’s 20th president following the death from natural causes of Zillur Rahman.
According to Section 123 (1)
of the constitution, an election for the president’s successor must be held no sooner than 90 and no later than 60 days prior to the end of a full term – giving a deadline of February 22.
Since the constitution stipulates that the president has to be elected by members of parliament, a vote will take place during the current 19th session which is scheduled to run until February 28.
However, no voting will be needed if there is only one candidate.
Despite the short timeframe, Election Commission (EC) sources say they have not yet begun preparations to hold the poll.
Officials of the commission’s election management section say they have had no discussion over the matter and had not received any directives from the commission members.
Acting EC secretary Helaluddin Ahmed said they would take steps at the appropriate time as the matter was “sensitive”.
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said the EC was aware of the presidential election but there had not been any discussion yet. “We will meet within a day or two,” he said. “We will be able to give information about it then.”
He could not immediately say whether the presidential election would be held during the current session.
Jatiya Sangsad (JS) Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury said any move to initiate a presidential election must be made be the commission.
“Although there are directives in the constitution about the presidential election, there is also a separate law for that,” she said. “Parliament will take steps if any requests come from the EC.”
Former law minister Shafique Ahmed clarified the timeframe for the election, saying: “The period of 90 to 60 days prior to the date of expiration of the term means the first 30 days.”
Constitutional expert advocate Shahdeen Malik said: “The election has to be held within 30 days from the day the countdown [for presidential poll] begins.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com