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Dhaka Tribune

Diplomats, EC discuss polls preparations

Update : 27 Aug 2013, 06:44 PM

Foreign diplomats questioned the Election Commission on its stance over the scrapping of article 91(E) in the Representation of the People Order (RPO) and the registration process of a new political party named Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF), EC officials said.

They also enquired about the EC’s stance on Jamaat-e-Islami after the High Court on August 1 declared its registration as a political party illegal.

The envoys also concerns over media reports that the EC was deliberating on whether to revoke its power to cancel candidature of an individual for violating the electoral code of conduct. The delegation wanted to know whether the EC has excluded the military from the RPO’s definition of law enforcement agencies.

The questions were raised at the meeting of the EC with foreign diplomats of 14 countries and UN organisations to discuss the preparations for next parliamentary polls.

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad, while answering the diplomats, said the EC was still considering scrapping the article 91(E). However, he assured them of the EC’s initiative to make the next elections acceptable and ensure participation of all political parties.

According to sources, on the issue of BNF, the CEC said the commission was examining its field-level activities and organisational structure. He assured that registration would only be awarded to those organisations that fulfil the EC’s criteria.

“The CEC informed them that the provision for army deployment during polls was excluded from the RPO way back in 2009 and not under the incumbent commission,” an EC official said.

After the meeting, the CEC told reporters that the commission was procuring election materials such as transparent ballot boxes, permanent ink, etc from different countries, with the assistance of development partners, whose representatives attended the meeting to take stock of preparation for the polls.

“We will source polling materials from them. We have also sought technical assistance for video arrangement to monitor the polling centres during the next parliamentary elections,” he said. This assistance would be provided under a project of the UNDP.

Reiterating that EC wants to arrange a peaceful and fair election where every party would take part, the CEC added that the commission wants to hold the polls properly, so that the results would truly reflect the people’s opinions.

About the registration of Jamaat, the CEC said: “The High Court has given a verdict, and the Supreme Court is there too. Whatever the decision may be, the EC will act in accordance with the court’s ruling.”

After the meeting, acting British high commissioner Nick Low told the Dhaka Tribune: “You should ask what we did not discuss. We discussed everything from transparent ballot boxes to security deployment.

“We want what the people of this country want and that is free, fair and all-party elections,” he said.

When asked about the approach of the diplomats, he said: “As individual countries or collectively, we are discussing the issue with the political parties to have a positive election,” he said. “We are united on the issues that need to be tackled.”

On behalf of the diplomats, UN’s Resident Coordinator Neil Walker briefed journalists on what they discussed at the meeting.

“Those countries and partners that are providing support to the electoral process in Bangladesh through the Election Commission have come here today to hear what the Election Commission is doing with regard to its preparation for the upcoming national parliamentary elections,” he said.

“We have discussed about the preparations. We have exchanged views on our mutual hope for a free, fair, credible and inclusive election with him today,” he said.

Walker confirmed the Dhaka Tribune that there was no decision as yet over the UN Assistant Secretary General Oscar-Fernandez Taranco’s visit to Dhaka.

The EC invited the ambassadors and representatives from the USA, the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the United Nations/UNDP and the European Union. The meeting lasted nearly an hour.

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