Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal on Wednesday said that the Election Commission would not be bothered about the legitimacy of the election, but it would be concerned over whether the process is legally correct.
“If one percent of the votes is cast and 99 percent are not cast, that is legally valid. In that case the issue of legitimacy may be different. The question of legitimacy may arise, but the question of legality will not arise," he said.
The CEC made the remarks at a workshop on “Unfettered Voting Rights: Role of Candidates and Polling Agents” organised by the Election Commission at Nirbachan Bhaban in the city’s Agargaon area.
He said they will not be concerned over legitimacy. "Political parties will fight over it (the legitimacy of the election). The Election Commission will not fight for it. We will see whether the vote is free, impartial and peaceful," he said.
Noting that the EC's responsibility is to ensure if the election is effectively contested, Habibul Awal said he is a bit confused about the meaning of 'inclusive' election and 'participatory' election.
"Participatory means as I understand it if a large number of voters turn up and vote. We will not bother about who come or not. If the genuine turnout is 70 percent and then it is contested, we will only have a little refereeing role," he added.
He said it is not the EC's responsibility to bring someone to the election. "It is not our responsibility to bring someone. Yet we too have invited (BNP and other parties) many times out of our moral position.... What more can we do?"
About the arrest of polling agents ahead of the election, the CEC said the EC will request the government time and again not to arrest them during the election.
"We will repeatedly inform the government that if they have to be arrested, do it six months before the election or it has to be done after the election. Election should not be questioned," he said.
Former election commissioners Md Shah Nawaz and Kabita Khanam, former Vice-Chancellor of National University Prof Dr Harun-Or-Rashid, Dhaka University's Mass Communication and Journalism professors Robaet Ferdous and SM Shameem Reza, journalists Nayeemul Islam Khan and Syed Ishtiaque Reza, among others, spoke on the occasion.
Besides, election commissioners, current and former EC officials were present in the workshop.