EC dialogues close with Awami League

President praised the ruling party for taking initiative on EC law

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President M Abdul Hamid wrapped up his dialogues with political parties on the reconstitution of the Election Commission with ruling Awami League on Monday.

The enactment of a law on the formation of the Election Commission, which has been demanded by several parties during the dialogues, was discussed by the president and the Awami League delegation, led by party President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner Appointment Act, 2022 and it will receive final approval in parliament soon.

On condition of anonymity, a top leader of Awami League told this newspaper: “They will try to complete the process of enacting the law during the current parliamentary session so that the new EC can be formed under the law, but it takes times to complete formalities.”

When contacted, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said: “Come and see. Nothing is impossible.

“We do not have any magic cards to complete the new law enacting procedure so fast. It will be completed as per the existing rules,” he added.

Following the dialogue with Awami League, President's Press Secretary Md Joynal Abedin told media the president praised the party for the initiative to formulate the law, as it had been heavily demanded by political parties.

He also hoped that the law would be passed in parliament soon and that it would reflect public opinion.

President Abdul Hamid with Awami League delegation at Bangabhaban on Monday, January 17, 2021 Focus Bangla

Sheikh Hasina informed President Hamid that the law has been approved by the Cabinet in accordance with article 118 of the Constitution, and the other processes to enact the law would be completed soon.

Thanking the Awami League delegation for giving a well-thought-out opinion on the formation of the Election Commission, President Hamid said that the Election Commission should be formed as per the Constitution.

The 10-member Awami League delegation included General Secretary Obaidul Quader, advisory council members Amir Hossain Amu and Tofail Ahmed, presidium members Begum Matia Chowdhury, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, Muhammad Faruk Khan, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, as well as party President Sheikh Hasina. They entered Bangabhaban at around 4pm.

When contacted after the dialogue, Muhammad Faruk Khan told Dhaka Tribune: “The environment was very warm. We had a good talk with the President. Discussions focused on some challenges that may arise in the coming days.”

He added that the dialogue touched on how the Naryanganj City Corporation election proved that peaceful, free, and fair elections were possible with the assistance of all political parties.

Awami League submits 4 proposals

After the dialogue, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader briefed the media at the party's central office on Bangabandhu Avenue and said they had submitted a written proposal on democracy and elections in Bangladesh.

The proposals focused on the president appointing the CEC and election commissioners as per as  article 118 of the Constitution.

“The President will decide the process and appointment of the CEC and the ECs,” Quader said.

Awami League also proposed to enact a law in accordance with the constitution to appoint the CEC and election commissioners.

The ruling party delegation also proposed to increase the use of technology, including electronic voting machines, to hold free, fair, and credible elections.

AL wants govt employees conducting elections

Awami League also proposed to appoint only officers and employees of the government as presiding and polling officers, instead of using the officers and employees of the private sector, according to the press secretary of the president.

The party also proposed an elected electoral government that would only conduct routine work during the election.

President Hamid invited a total of 32 political parties, including the AL, for dialogues on forming an independent, neutral and credible EC, as the current EC's five-year tenure is scheduled to expire on February 14.

Presidents dialogue at a glance

On December 20, the President started the series of dialogues with the political parties, beginning with Jatiya Party, the main opposition in parliament.

A total of seven political parties, including the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), refrained from taking part in the dialogue, claiming it would be ineffective in forming a neutral Election Commisision.   

The president has been given the power to appoint the CEC and election commission in article 118 of the constitution of Bangladesh.   

Dialogues between the president and political parties were also ahead of the 10th and 11th parliamentary elections. A search committee formed on the basis of the dialogues recommended names from which the president selected the CEC and the election commissioners. 

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