Some members of the ruling party have expressed disapproval with some of the civil society members who were invited by the Election Commission (EC) to have a dialogue today on the 11th parliamentary elections.
Among the 59 civil society members invited, some Awami League leaders have raised doubts about a handful of intellectuals, including eminent Jurist Dr Kamal Hossain, Executive Director of Democracywatch Taleya Rehman, Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Dr Asif Nazrul Islam of Dhaka University’s Department of Law, Professor Dilara Chowdhury, Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik (Sujan) Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder and Advocate of the Supreme Court Dr Shahdeen Malik.
However, Executive Director of Democracywatch Taleya Rehman, the wife of journalist Shafik Rehman, is currently undergoing medical treatment in London and will not be attending the meeting.
According to the EC’s road map for the upcoming elections, they are supposed to hold dialogues with both civil society members and all political parties.
While Awami League leaders would not on record criticise the EC for their choice of guests, Awami League central leader Abdur Razzak said “I don’t see the point of inviting 59 people to talk. Also, nobody is ever really unbiased.”
Awami league Presidium Member Kazi Zafaullah told the Dhaka Tribune: “It is difficult to understand if someone is biased towards a political group or if they are involved with them.
“We have no problems with pro-BNP civil society members speaking with the Election Commission as long as that does not affect the decision by the EC. We will have to wait and see if the EC prioritises their opinion over the others.”
BNP leader, Samsuzzaman Dudu on the other hand said: “The Election Commission invited members of the civil society whom they deem to be well-versed in the subject. I have no objection to any of those invited to speak. As a political party the Awami League can express their dissatisfaction with certain things, just like how the BNP has the right to express its dissatisfaction.”
BNP leader Moin Khan said: “If the Election Commission wants a free and fair election then they have to discuss issues with all political parties and the civil society.
Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder said he had invited distinguished civil society members to have a dialogue about the upcoming national election, and did not know whether they were pro-Awami League or pro-BNP.
“Today we will speak with the civil society members and hear their opinions and then speak to all the political parties before we make any decision,” he said.
There is a legal obligation for parliamentary election within January 28, 2019. So on July 16, Election Commission published their final Road Map. Going by the road map, the EC called 59 representatives of the civil society to a dialogue which is going to be held today.
The EC will speak to the media in August and then to all political parties in September. In October, the EC will sit with election observers, women leaders, and election managing experts.
In December, after hearing everyone’s recommendations, the EC will prepare their final recommendation for the elections.