BNP, allies to skip EC talks

The BNP-led opposition is set to boycott the dialogue with the Election Commission on redrawing the boundaries of parliamentary constituencies and finding out ways to make the next election free and fair.

The opposition leaders yesterday said they were agitating for the restoration of the non-partisan caretaker government and would not sit with the EC until their demand was met.

Given the situation, a consensus among political parties through the EC's talks seems improbable. The electoral dialogue is scheduled to be held after Eid-ul-Azha.

Ruling Awami League-led alliance leaders, however, welcomed the move to hold the talks that was announced on Thursday by Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad.

Joint General Secretary of ruling Awami League Mahbubul Alam Hanif said, “It is positive that the Election commission is seeking suggestions from all the political parties to hold a free and fair election.”

Rashed Khan Menon, chief of Workers Party, a component of AL-led alliance, also welcomed the EC move.

Meanwhile, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed yesterday told The Daily Star that the opposition parties did not have confidence in the current EC.

“The most important thing is whether the next parliamentary election would be held under a partisan government or not. If the election is held under a non-partisan caretaker government, discussions on how to reconstitute the present Election Commission and how to strengthen it can be held,” said Moudud.

But if things went otherwise, the BNP-led opposition parties would not participate in the polls and hence there would be no need for discussion with the EC, he added.

Moudud, however, said his party would formally decide on the dialogue after getting the invitation from the EC.

Andaleeve Rahman Partha, chief of Bangladesh Jatiya Party, a component of BNP-led alliance, said: “This is a puppet EC and it is suffering from image crisis.”

He said the opposition parties would not sit in talks with the present EC unless their demand for restoring the caretaker government system was met. Once this issue was settled, the other issues would automatically be resolved, he added.

Echoing the views of Partha, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Hamidur Rahman Azad said the government had appointed the EC on political consideration.

“We, therefore, reject the unilateral appointment. Now there is no reason to sit with them [EC] to discuss electoral issues,” said Azad, also the nayeb-e-ameer of Jamaat's Dhaka city unit.

When his attention was drawn to the opposition parties' stance, AL leader Hanif said they [the opposition] were doing unconstructive politics.

“There is no relation between the caretaker government issue and the election commission. They should not impose any precondition to join the talks,” he said.

Contacted, Election Commissioner Shah Nawaz yesterday said the EC had planned to invite representatives of all the 38 registered political parties to sit together.

"We do not have time to sit with them separately. We need to begin the task for redrawing the boundaries of the parliamentary constituencies immediately," he said.

On opposition parties' stance, he said the EC hoped they would join the talks.

News Source: 
The Daily Star