The new political alliance has urged the Election Commission not to use electronic voting machines in the upcoming polls
The meeting between the delegation of Jatiya Oikya Front and the Election Commission on Monday reportedly got intense as the dialogue heated up.
A delegation of the Oikya Front – the political platform comprising Dr Kamal Hossain’s Gono Forum, BNP, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal led by ASM Abdur Rab, Nagorik Oikya, and a faction of Jatiya Oikya Prokriya that was formed less than a month ago – met with the election commissioners, led by Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, at the Election Commission headquarters in Agargaon, Dhaka on Monday to discuss the upcoming general election.
During the meeting, which went on for more than two hours, the Oikya Front leaders requested the Election Commission to announce the election schedule after the dialogues between the political parties and the government is finished.
Oikya Front insiders said the dialogue got heated up when the discussion moved to the issue of people’s confidence in the Election Commission, and whether the political parties trusted the commission as well.
According to the insiders, Jatiya Oikya also demanded the Election Commission not to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the upcoming polls.
In reply, Election Commissioner Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said the political parties who were opposing the use of EVMs were doing so without seeing the actual machines.
Assuring the delegates that there was no way to manipulate vote counts through the EVMs to be used in the election; Shahadat urged the Oikya Front leaders to test the machines by their own experts, if necessary.
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In response to Shahadat’s statement, Nagorik Oikya Convener Mahmudur Rahman Manna said he was confident that vote counts could be manipulated through the EVMs.
Manna further said they had not gone to the meeting to express lack of confidence in the Election Commission. “However, people do not have faith in this commission,” Manna reportedly said.
Shahadat then quipped that people did not really have faith in the political parties either.
The exchange got heated up when the CEC made a comment that politicians always said big words, at which point Manna stopped the CEC and told him to mind his language.
Sultan Mansur, another member of the Oikya Front delegation, warned the Election Commission not to hold an election like the last one.
“You will still be in the country in 2019… Keep that in mind while conducting the election,” he told the Election Commission officials.
However, when asked about the argument in the post-meeting press briefing, Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said there had been no exchange of heated words, and the dialogue had been cordial.
“That was not a heated argument. The tone inside the meeting room was loud. You know, they are politicians,” Helal told reporters.