Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on Sunday said the Election Commission wants to remain above criticism by holding a free, fair and credible election as the last two national polls were tainted by controversies.
“Though there were criticisms and debates over many elections in the past, the 2014 and 2018 elections drew excessive criticism and debates in the political sphere. We want to stay above criticism and controversy by conducting free and acceptable elections without bias,” he said.
The CEC came up with the remark at the EC’s talks with the governing Bangladesh Awami League at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the city’s Agargaon area.
An AL delegation, led by its general secretary Obaidul Quader, joined the talks as part of the EC’s dialogues with registered political parties, arranged to seek their opinions over the 12th parliamentary elections slated to be held next year.
The CEC said it is the constitutional and statutory responsibility of the Election Commission to hold free and neutral elections. Similarly, it is the constitutional and statutory duty of the government to assist the EC,” he said.
"We’ll continue our sincere efforts to make elections free and acceptable,” he said.
Describing Awami League as the oldest party and one of the biggest political parties in the country, he said, “We’ve also higher expectations from the big party.”
Awal said AL has been in power for three terms in a row. So, the common people call AL as a ruling party or power party. But there is no mention of government party or ruling party in the constitution. “If I am not wrong, Awami League is a political party like ten other parties,” he said.
The Election Commission will perform its responsibility to hold the 12th national election in free, neutral and participatory manners and ensure the exercise of voting rights as per the laws and regulations remaining obliged to the Constitution, he said.
“We hope that everyone will cooperate with the Commission and wish success for the parties in maintaining their responsible behaviors over the national election,” he added.
Citing that the Election Commission received views from the political parties both for and against the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the EC’s talks, the CEC said, “Most of the parties do not believe in EVMs…. We can't gain the confidence of many people after talking. We will make decisions independently. But there is no consensus.”
Talking about the proposals received from other political parties in the dialogues, Habibul Awal said some parties favour staggering the national election for several days, instead of on a single day and some parties also asked for the deployment of army in the parliamentary polls.
Four other election commissioners and EC secretary also spoke at the talks.
AL leaders Amir Hossain Amu, Matia Chowdhury, Kazi Zafarullah, Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, Faruk Khan, Hasan Mahmud, Shahabuddin Chuppu, Abdus Sobhan Golap, Barrister Biplab Barua, Salim Mahmud, Shamsunnahar Chapa and Sayeem Khan were the other delegation members.
With the talks with AL, the EC has apparently wrapped up its dialogues with the political parties.
Among 39 registered political parties, 28 participated in the EC’s talks, while nine abstained and the remaining two parties sought time to sit with the Commission.