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Election on December 27?

  • Published at 12:02 am September 6th, 2018
Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban
The Election Commission has yet to make a decision on when the election will be held Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The finance minister says election may be held on December 27 and the polls-time government will be formed within next 20 days

Finance Minister AMA Muhith has said that the national election may be held on December 27 according to the Election Commission’s plans.

“The Election Commission will decide the date of the vote, but I have heard that according to their plan the national election may be held on December 27,” the minister told reporters on Wednesday.

“The election-time government will also be formed within the next 20 days,” he said.

However, talking to the Dhaka Tribune, several senior leaders of ruling Awami League claimed that they did not have any information about when the election-time government would be formed, what its size would be or who would be in it.

“Only Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina knows about the time frame of forming the election-time government and she alone will take the decision,” said Abdur Rahman, Awami League’s joint general secretary.

The Election Commission is an independent organization and it is fully responsible for holding a free and fair election, the senior leader said.

“The commission will fix the election schedule and the election-time government will simply help the commission hold the polls,” he added.

Awami League Presidium members Pijush Kanti Bhattacharjee and Romesh Chandra Sen also echoed this view, saying that only Sheikh Hasina knew about the time frame, size and formation of the election-time government.

The Election Commission similarly has said that they have not decided yet when the 11th parliamentary polls will be held.

When contacted, Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain said the commission has not taken any decisions about the election date or schedule.

Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder declined to comment on the issue.

Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of the democracy watchdog Citizens for Good Governance (Shujan), said that as a minister of the present government, Muhith could talk about forming of the election-time government, but talking about election schedule is outside his purview.

“According to the constitution, only the Election Commission gets to fix the date of the election, declare the election schedule and hold the election,” said Badiul.

He asked how the commission could be independent when “a minister declares the election date.”

“Is this Election Commission neutral, impartial and independent? If a minister can fix the election date then what is the commission’s job?” he asked.

Abdul Alim, director of Election Working Group, however, saw no problem with the finance minister’s remarks.

“There is no bar in our constitution against ministers talking about election date or schedule,” he said.

‘BNP cannot be part of polls-time govt’

In response to a question from journalists, Muhith said there was no possibility for the BNP to be included in the election-time government.

“There is no chance for them to be included in the government because they are not represented in the parliament,” he said.

“I see media reports that say civil society representatives will be in the election-time government. This is incorrect.

“That would be a violation of the law. If BNP cannot be allowed to be part of the government, then neither can civil society members,” he added.

BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said an election-time government had to be based on dialogue with all political parties.

“BNP is being deliberately excluded from this government. This will just be another Awami League government,” he said.

Another Standing Committee member of the party, Mirza Abbas, said excluding BNP and the civil society made it evident that the government wants to carry out an election according to its own blueprint.

“BNP wants a neutral polls-time government and we will continue our movement until that happens,” he said.

BNP Vice-Chairman Selima Rahman said they were waiting to see what sort of election-time government will be formed without the party in it.

Muhith, the Sylhet 1 MP, held a meeting with the newly elected Sylhet city mayor and councillors at his office on Wednesday.