The Election Commission wants to ban candidates for the upcoming parliamentary election from campaigning on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Viber.
The provision forms part of a new section of the draft Representation of the People Order (RPO) which also says no electronic media or display board can be used for the duration of the election campaign.
The ban will remain effective until the election results are declared, and would hit anyone found to have campaigned on social media with a prison sentence or a fine.
Election Working Group (EWG) Director Dr Abdul Alim said that it is important to ensure a level playing field for every candidate by including social media in the RPO.
“I appreciate that the Election Commission has included social media in RPO, but both the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission should monitor it, because the Election Commission alone will not be able to monitor it,” Alim said.
EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed told the Dhaka Tribune that while all kinds of campaign are banned from the election schedule, this is the first time that campaigning on social media has been included in the RPO draft.
The proposal is one of over 30 added to Section 7 (8) of the draft amendment of the code of conduct in the RPO, which was finalized by the “rule and regulation reform committee” of the Election Commission in a recent meeting.
The draft will be placed before the commission for vetting before it is sent to the Ministry of Law.