EC reformation process still mired in criticism

Amid its much-hyped reconstitution, the 11th Election Commission (EC) still remains the centre of discussion in Bangladesh’s political arena with many continuing to criticise the reformation process.

In continuation of its disgruntlement ever since the new EC was formed, the BNP kept raising its eyebrows over the constitutional body, putting the reconstitution procedure in doubt.

BNP’s Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said: “The total process of EC reconstitution was merely a drama. The government and the search committee have cheated the people.

“Though they [search panel members] are not political figures, they are loyal to the Awami League.”

According to him, none of the people who BNP recommended for the EC has political links.

Earlier on Wednesday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told the Dhaka Tribune that they recommended local government expert Tofayel Ahmed, lawyer Dr Shahdeen Malik, Asafuddoulah, former additional secretary Mahbub Talukder and two women for the EC.

Of them, the former bureaucrat Mahbub Talukder has already been appointed as a commissioner.

Fakhrul, however, refused make any comment on this issue when asked over phone.

Earlier on January 31, Rizvi submitted the names to the Cabinet Division, which carried out secretarial responsibility of the search committee.

In a press briefing on Monday, Rizvi on his party’s behalf urged the search committee to disclose the suggested names.

Meanwhile, Gono Shonghoti Andolon Convener Junaid Saki said: “The government pretended as if the entire process of the EC formation was democratic and inclusive. But, in fact, it was not.”

Junaid said: “Without reformation of the constitution, it is not possible to form an independent EC which could hold free and fair polls to ensure democracy. Because, the incumbent prime minister holds immense constitutional power which has made her an authoritarian.”

Dhaka University Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam, one of the search body members, said: “In an attempt to build up confidence among the people of the country, the commission should have included at least one representative from the civil society.

“It could have been a balanced commission if there was a representative from the civil society, thus raising no questions about the EC now.

“I had recommended some names, but they were rejected,” he said, wishing not to make any further comment on the matter.

The committee held meetings with civil society representatives, besides sitting with political parties, to get their opinions regarding the EC reformation.

Afterwards, the search body submitted the names of three eminent citizens and those recommended by the political parties to the president.

The three eminent citizens were Dhaka University Professor Zarina Rahman Khan, local government expert Tofayel Ahmed and Chairman of election monitoring group Janipop Nazmul Ahsan Kalimuallah.

But, neither of them were picked up by the president.

On January 25, President Md Abdul Hamid formed the panel after holding a series of talks with 31 registered political parties to help form the EC. The search panel on January 31 shortlisted 20 people out of about 125 names suggested by 27 political parties.

Finally, the president formed the five-member EC on Monday after a further shortlist prepared by the search panel, which was instructed to suggest two names for each post and recommendations within ten working days.

source: Dhakatribune