Chief Election Commissioner K M Nurul Huda announced December 23 as the date for the next parliamentary election in his televised address to the nation on Thursday
By rushing to announce the schedule for the 11th national polls, the Election Commission (EC) has closed the window of fresh air recently opened by the series of dialogues held with different political parties, civil society members said on Thursday.
Chief Election Commissioner K M Nurul Huda announced December 23 as the date for the next parliamentary election in his televised address to the nation on Thursday.
“It is no surprise at all,” Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said.
“As much as it is unlikely that (the Election Commission) will now be able to regain its credibility in the short period before the election, one can only hope that by some miracle it can ensure the proverbial level playing field, which now appears a further distant dream.
“The EC must not forget that the authority to determine the outcome of the election lies in the hands of the voters, and it is EC's core responsibility to prevent that to be forfeited by any illicit means.
"The Commission has once again reinforced the question whether it has the capacity and credibility to do so."
Veteran journalist and political commentator Afsan Chowdhury said opposition parties are now bound to contest the polls because of the adamant position of the government.
"The opposition parties cannot launch any significant movement even if the election is deferred,” he said.
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“It is not a part of the government on who gets what, as the two parties remain busy in weakening each other and that is why one is calling for postponement of poll, whereas the other has not taken the issue into concern.
"Voters have already decided for whom to vote and the perception of the 30% swing voters will not have much impact on the poll no matter whether the election is deferred or not.”
National Election Observation Council or JANIPOP chairman Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah said anyone in CEC Nurul Huda’s position might made a similar poll announcement given the current situation.
"It is not possible to satisfy everyone,” he said. “We need to consider that there is annual exam in all schools and colleges, and also SSC and HSC examinations during the time. As schools are used as polling centres, it is a matter of concern so the election should not be deferred anymore.”
However, the former adviser to the caretaker government, Hafizuddin Khan, said the move to rush the date announcement was “intentional”.
"There is enough time for the elections to be held in January,” he said. “The government has announced the schedule considering its own benefits, while the Jatiya Party, a major opposition party supported it. The announcement has become an obstacle in the mid of political settlement.”
Dhaka University Law professor Asif Nazrul said the announcement was done in a hurried way to represent the decisions of government.
"There are still chances of postponement,” he said. “As the political issues remain unsettled, the election can still be deferred."