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Dhaka Tribune

EC says no to Hasina's request

Update : 11 Dec 2015, 03:52 PM

The Election Commission has declined the request of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina – also the Awami League chief – to assign her party's Boat symbol to an independent candidate in Shariatpur.

“The commission has already sent a letter to the returning official of Shariatpur on Thursday, directing the official not to allocate party symbol to the independent candidate as municipality election law does not support it,” EC Assistant Secretary Rajib Ahsan told the Dhaka Tribune.

On December 3, the last date for nomination submission, the Awami League selected former Chhatra League leader Rafiqul Islam Kotowal as its mayoral candidate for the Shariatpur municipality election.

But during scrutiny, Rafiqul's nomination was cancelled because of allegations that he had defaulted loan in Janata Bank's Karwan Bazar branch.

Responding to the scrapping of the nomination, the Awami League then picked rebel candidate Farroque Ahmed Talukdar to replace Rafiqul.

On December 8, with the order and signature of Sheikh Hasina to nominate Farroque as the party candidate with Boat symbol, Shariatpur district AL General Secretary Anol Kumar Dey submitted an application to the district Returning Officer Abdullah Al Mamun.

But the official sought the Election Commission's opinion regarding the matter.

According to the Local Government Act 2015, no political party is allowed to nominate more than one person as its mayoral candidate in the municipal elections. If multiple candidates are nominated, then the nominations of all party candidates will be rejected.

On Thursday, EC Secretary Sirajul Islam said: “The commission has no way to accept the letter, and the candidate would not be allowed to use the party symbol as his nomination paper was accepted as an independent candidate.”

A letter regarding this decision was sent to the Shariatpur returning officer later in the day.

Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Shariatpur Assistant Returning Official Biswas Sujan Kumar said: “We have received the commission's directive. There is no scope now for allocation of party symbols to independent candidates.”

However, Rafiqul Islam Kotowal, whose appeal against the nomination cancellation was also rejected by the deputy commissioner, said he had no record of bank loan default.

Claiming that he was a victim of conspiracy, Rafiqul said he would now go to the High Court to appeal against the scrapping of his nomination.

Rafiqul's claim of conspiracy was also echoed by district Awami League President Abdur Rab Munshi, who told the Dhaka Tribune on Friday that Rafiqul had a clear image as a politician.

Local lawmaker BM Mojammel Haque might be behind the plot against Rafiqul as the MP's own preferred candidate failed to secure AL backing, Munshi said.

Meanwhile, the BNP had earlier criticised the Awami league chief's plea to nominate a rebel candidate, saying the head of the government has now started violating municipality election code of conduct.

On Wednesday, BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told journalists: “The Awami League chief, who is the chief executive and the head of the government, signed the letter [backing Farroque's nomination]. It is a violation to the rules and illegal.

“When the head of the government herself is involved in election irregularities, then there is no scope to hold free and fair polls,” the BNP leader said.

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