Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The EC needs more power, not less

Bangladesh needs an Election Commission that is empowered

Update : 11 Jun 2023, 11:22 AM

The Representation of the People Order (RPO) amendment bill, currently under consideration in the National Assembly, is nothing more than another step towards diminishing the power of the Election Commission, as the proposed amendment would strip the commission of its existing power to cancel ongoing elections in any constituency -- even if there are justified violations of electoral laws.

As an institution, the Election Commissions is supposed to be one of the arbiters of democracy in our country, and far from empowering the body to fulfill its duties it appears power is being further stripped away from it, which sets a bad precedent for not just elections but our overall political culture at large.

While voters and political parties ultimately decide who gets to power and when, it is the Election Commission, and the Chief Election Commissioner, who have to inspire trust in voters in the first place. But the apathetic response to directives by the commission has historically proven that no party appears to respect it enough to comply.

For the longest time, Bangladesh's political culture -- particularly when it comes to elections -- has been rife with mistrust and accusations. Which is why we need institutions such as the Election Commission to be empowered enough to be able to retain the sanctity of the electoral process. At the end of the day, the Election Commission's responsibilities are some of the most important towards safeguarding democratic values.

Bangladesh needs an Election Commission that is empowered, not one that has further powers stripped away. To that end, it is not only in the best interests of the Election Commission but also that of the citizens that the proposed amendments to the RPO be scrapped without any second considerations.

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