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Dhaka Tribune

Experts: Neutral election-time government necessary to give EC freedom

They urge immediate beginning of process of reconstituting Election Commission

Update : 04 Oct 2021, 09:31 PM

A neutral election-time government is necessary to give the Election Commission the freedom to function and perform without any outside influence, experts have said.

They were speaking at a virtual roundtable meeting on the theme, “Election Commission Appointment Act and Relevant Thoughts,” organized by the rights organization Citizens for Good Governance (SHUJAN) on Monday.

The Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Appointment Act, 2021 (draft) included provisions on the structure of the Election Commission, requirements for appointing election commissioners, framework and role of the search committee, speakers said. 

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Asif Nazrul, professor of law at Dhaka University, said: “Whenever we talk about this act, we have to consider that there is no alternative to bringing about a change in the system of government by including a neutral or intermediate caretaker government, in order to allow the Election Commission to perform independently and without influence.”  

Echoing Asif Nazrul on a neutral election-time government, human rights activist Shireen Haque said: “We may also see progress if the number of women representatives can be increased.”

SHUJAN Secretary Badiul Alam Majumadar praised the inclusion of provisions that appear pertinent to the times, but he also called for further steps to be taken.

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“This draft act is just the start. These ideas can spark discussion and lead us to achieving unity on the issue [of fair elections],” he said.

Barrister Amirul Islam stressed the need to make sure that all provisions in the draft act were in line with the country’s constitution.

Mentioning the significance and function of parliament, former election commissioner Brigadier M Sakhawat Hossain said: “One of my biggest observations is the lack of parliamentary involvement.”

Speakers also said the law should provide for the formation of an inquiry committee, and pointed out the law’s clarity on the eligibility criteria for potential recruits to the Election Commission.

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They emphasized ensuring full transparency in the recruitment process, appointing the right people to the Election Commission, as well as ensuring the Election Commission’s independence.

The current Election Commission's term ends in February next year. The draft of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner Appointment Act 2021 has been prepared and proposed by the ATM Shamsul Huda Commission on behalf of SHUJAN. 

SHUJAN aspires to accelerate the process of handing the final draft act over to the government by incorporating the views and experience of citizens.

Justice MA Matin, Advocate Shahdin Malik, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder and former secretary Abdul Latif Mandal also addressed the roundtable, among others.

On September 24, as many as 53 eminent citizens urged the government to begin the process of reconstituting the Election Commission immediately with the enactment of a law as per the constitution.

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