Monday, May 20, 2024

EC gears up for election series

Shakhawat Liton
The Election Commission (EC) plans to hold the long over due Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) polls in March this year, launching a series of local government elections across the country.
Following the DCC polls, the EC plans to hold elections to over 300 municipalities, and then the long over due polls to over 4,500 union parishads.
According to the EC’s projection, 2009 will also be a year of ballots, the process of which has already begun with the scheduling of upazila parishad elections for January 22.
Talking to reporters in his office yesterday, Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain said the commission is now busy preparing for the long over due polls to 481 upazila parishads.
He said the voter list for DCC area will start getting updated by the end of this month for the election in March.
The last DCC election was held in early 2002 and the current city administration’s five-year tenure expired long ago, but new polls to the city corporation could not be held on time due to an absence of a correct voter list, and the existence of a state of emergency — allowing the incumbent mayor and councillors to continue in the offices.
Similarly, the tenure of over 4,500 union parishads also expired between January and March last year, and according to the electoral law, elections to those were supposed to be held within 180 days of the tenure expiry.
About the union parishad polls, Election Commissioner Sakhawat said those will be held some time this year over a period of four to five months.
Elections to around 300 municipalities might also be held before the union parishad polls.
In August last year, the EC held elections to four city corporations and nine municipalities under a state of emergency.
Sakhawat also said by-elections in six parliamentary constituencies will be held in February.
According to a provision in the country’s constitution, a by-election to a vacated parliamentary seat must be held within 90 days of the vacation. Four parliamentary seats have already become vacant as Awami League President Sheikh Hasina and Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad vacated two seats each before their induction into the new parliament on Saturday.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, who also won in three constituencies in the latest parliamentary poll, must vacate two seats before her induction too.
The EC will also have to hold elections to 45 parliamentary seats reserved for women, the date for which is yet to be fixed.
“We will hold elections to the reserved seats in the earliest after the upazila parishad elections,” Sakhawat said.
Forty five parliamentary seats will be distributed among the political parties represented in the new parliament, on the basis of their strength in the house.
According to the election law, AL that won 230 seats in the latest national poll might get around 36 reserved seats, increasing the total number of its lawmakers in the house to over 260.
Moreover, the EC will also have to arrange the election of the country’s president within 30 days of the maiden session of the new parliament.
About the upazila polls, Sakhawat said the EC has taken all out preparation for those. Sending of election materials to the field level for upazila polls will start on January 12, he added.
On poll security, he said the army will not be deployed during the upazila polls, rather Bangladesh Rifles, police and other regular law enforcement agencies will be deployed to maintain law and order during those polls.
He also said judicial magistrates will also be engaged for holding trials for electoral offences.
The election commissioner urged all including the new lawmakers and the ministers to be appointed, not to get involved in electoral campaigns for any upazila parishad candidate. He urged them to abide by the electoral code of conduct.
The EC yesterday in a meeting decided to direct the additional district magistrate of Feni to investigate allegations of violating the electoral code of conduct against Abdul Rakib Kajmi, a candidate for the post of chairman of Feni Sadar upazila.
The EC took the decision after the returning officer concerned in a letter informed the commission that Kajmi had violated the electoral code of conduct by donating money and construction materials to educational and religious institutions, sources in the EC Secretariat said.
If Kajmi is found guilty, his candidacy might be cancelled.


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