'After October 30, election schedule can be declared any day'
Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed has said that if the Representation of the People Order (RPO) 1972 is not amended in time, then the upcoming 11th general election will be held under the existing laws.
"After October 30, election schedule can be declared any day," he told a press briefing at the commission office in Dhaka’s Agargaon on Tuesday.
He added that preparations were also underway to hold the elections by the end of December as planned.
Helal said: "We have finalized a list of 40,199 voting centers for this election. After the schedule is announced, the list given by the returning officers will be published through a gazette notification.
“Besides, we have started sending the CDs containing the voter lists from Tuesday. We will send the CDs to Khulna and Sylhet regional election office today. The rest will be sent in phases within a week.”
The secretary said they were also collecting information of those who would be working as polling officers, judicial magistrates, and executive magistrates during the election and taking preparation to begin their training after the announcement of the polls schedule at regions and district concerned.
The Election Commission on August 30 decided to amend the RPO in order to use electronic voting machines (EVM) in the national polls, despite objections from different quarters, including a majority number of registered political parties.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda that day had said: “Most of us [election commissioners] have agreed to amend the RPO. The amended RPO will be sent to the Law Ministry for further vetting soon. After the ministry’s approval, it will be tabled in parliament for passage.”
He, however, added: “It’s not certain that we will use the EVMs. But, we want to stay prepared to use them if there is favourable atmosphere before the polls.”
Since their introduction in 2010, the EVMs have so far been used in different local government elections only.
Ruling Awami League is in favour of using EVMs in the parliamentary election, following RPO amendments, but BNP and left-leaning political parties have always opposed the idea, expressing concern that the machines could be used to rig the polls.
With the election just three months away, the Election Commission has drawn up plans to use EVMs at the polling centres in one-third of the country’s 300 constituencies.
The government recently also cleared the commission’s project to procure 150,000 EVMs.