As it did in the draft, the Election Commission (EC) has published the roadmap, containing seven priority issues and without the provision of using electronic voting machine (EVM), for the 11th general elections.
“Copies of the roadmap have already been sent to political parties and the authorities concerned,” Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda told a media briefing held to unveil the roadmap at EC Secretariat in Dhaka on Sunday.
Terming the action plan merely an introductory document, he said: “It (roadmap) is not the only way to work on for the polls.”
“We will work upon the feedback from all after revising the roadmap,” he further said, seeking cooperation and suggestion from the stakeholders and all political parties.
In his reply to a question on whether the EC will manage to hold the polls neutrally, he said they will arrange a free and fair election even without the influence of the government; let alone the intervention of political parties and any domestic or foreign organisation.
He also warned that the EC would take tough action if obstructed while working on the outline after the polls schedule is announced.
When asked about the EC’s role in stopping social functions like the one held in a political leader’s home lately which was foiled by police, the CEC said this is not their concern as yet.
The commission will only take measures in this regard to help maintain an election-friendly atmosphere after the schedule is announced, he stated.
Election commissioners –-Rafiqul Islam, Kabita Khanam, Mahbub Talukdar and Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury-- and the EC Secretary Mohammad Abdullah and his deputy Mokhlesur Rahman attended the briefing.
Door of EVM not sealed yet
Responding to another query that if EVMs would be introduced in the national election for the very first time in the country, Nurul Huda said the door to use the machine is not closed as yet.
“We will discuss the EVM issue with the political parties during our polls dialogue,” he replied, adding, they will focus on the preparation of the parties and the EC to use EVMs.
Recalling that EVMs were lunched in local government polls in 2010 and 2011, but after that, those were not used further due to technical glitches.
“Now, we have only up to 800 EVMs that are five to six years old. Technology has changed a lot over the period and so did the EVMs. Considering the fact, we did not mention the use of EVMs in the roadmap,” he said.
There are about 250,000 polling booths and 40,000 centres across the country and it is not impossible to maintain EVMs there, the CEC said.
“We have the opportunity to use EVMs in the election and to do so, the procurement of about 2.50lakh new EVMs is a must,” the commission chief further said.
In this regard, a huge manpower needs to be trained up to operate the machines while the issue of the government supporting the EC will matter greatly, he added.
“We have to think whether we are capable enough to deal with the EVM issue before the polls since as there is a compulsion to hold the election within 90 days by January 28, 2019,” he said.
The 10th national parliament started its journey on January 29, 2014. So, the 11th national election has to be held between October 30, 2018 and January 27,2019.