Voting in Bangladesh general election on Dec 23

Bangla Tribune Report
Published : 19:12, Nov 08, 2018 | Updated : 23:48, Nov 08, 2018

Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda announced the schedule for the national election in an address to the nation.

The Election Commission (EC) has set Dec 23 for the voting in the 11th National Election.
In an address to the nation on Thursday (Nov 8), Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda announced the schedule for the general election setting Nov 19 as the deadline for the submitting the nominations, which will be scrutinised on Nov 22.
The deadline from pulling out of the race has been fixed Nov 29.
Earlier in the day, Huda had meeting with the four other election commissioners to finalise the voting day and the other details.
In his address, the CEC urged all political parties to take part in the election to continue Bangladesh’s “development efforts and put democracy on a stronger footing”
“We had finalised a plan for the election with seven specific goals in 2017, which he had presented during our talks with the 40 registered parties, members of the civil society, media representatives, polls observers, election experts and women’s rights bodies.
“The plans were implemented based on their suggestions and inputs. For instance, amendment of some of the laws and regulations, demarcation of parliamentary constituencies,” said Huda.
The CEC said it is a constitutional binding to hold the election by Jan 28, as the countdown to the polls began.
Highlighting on the preparations taken for the election, he said they have finalised the electoral roll and the 40,000 polling stations as well as disposed of the matter of registration of 75 political parties.
The EC has also conducted training workshops for officials, Huda said before adding, “For the first time, initiatives have been taken to provide the polling agents with training.”
All necessary procurements as well printings have been completed and the EC have discussed the ins and outs in an inter-ministerial meeting, the CEC said in his address.
“We have briefed the president over the preparations“, he said referring to their Nov 1 meeting at the Bangabhaban.
The initial process to deploy nearly 700,000 officials for electoral duty, said the CEC. “Executive, as well as judicial, magistrates will be appointed at all parliamentary constituencies. More than 600,000 security personnel from police, BGB, RAB, Coast Guard, Ansar and VDP will be deployed.”
He said that the Commission will strictly monitor all officials and initiate “legal measures” against those who will fail to perform their duty. “The army will be deployed to provide all necessary cooperation to the civil administration.”
The national election brings out festivity and fanfare, the CEC said urging the candidates and their supporters to comply with the electoral laws and code of conduct.
“The voters will freely exercise their franchises with the residents and elected representatives in the constituencies ensuring a congenial atmosphere. The polling agents will remain at the voting centres until the counting ends. The officials will perform their duties impartially and the magistrates will ensure that the law is implemented,” said Huda.
The general election paves the way for the people to exercise their rights as well as the formation of a new government, he said. “I once again urge all political parties in the country to contest the election and request them to resolve differences in a political manner.”
He called political parties to avoid acts of vengeance and violence stemming from competition.
“The law enforcers will be strictly instructed not to harass or prosecute voters, political activists, candidates, their supporters and agent unreasonably.”
CEC Huda assured that a level-playing field will be ensured and that an official order addressing these matters will be issued ‘soon’.
He made it clear that electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used in the polls.
“We have conducted awareness campaigns across the country on EVMs and fetched a good response from the people. We believe using EVMs will save time, money and manpower ... That’s why EVMs will be used in some of the voting stations in urban areas, which will be decided through random sampling,” said Huda.
The CEC’s speech came amid the new opposition alliance Jatiya Oikya Front’s repeated calls to defer the election schedule. The ruling Awami League and its allies as well as Jatiya Party, the opposition in House, urged the commission to go with its plan.