End differences and join polls: CEC to political parties

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 00:19, Nov 09, 2018 | Updated : 00:22, Nov 09, 2018

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina talks with Jaitya Oikya Front top leader Kamal Hossain before a dialogue between the ruling Awami League and JOF leaders at Ganabhaban in Dhaka on Wednesday (Nov 7). FOUCS BANGLAChief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda has urged political parties to end their differences and take part in the general election scheduled for Dec 23.
In a televised address on Thursday, the CEC announced the schedule for the 11th Parliamentary Election setting Nov 19 as the last day for the submitting the nominations while the deadline for withdrawing ends on Nov 29.
BNP and its allies had boycotted the 10th general election in 2014 demanding the non-partisan polls-time administration.
It’s now pressing for the same demand as a part of Gano Forum chief Dr Kamal Hossain-led alliance Jatiya Oikya Front.
The Oikya Front was launched last month, when it floated seven-point demands to ensure free and fair election, which included neutral polls-time government, dissolution of parliament before the election and the release of BNP chief Khaleda Zia, now in jail after convicted of corruption.
In an effort to resolve issue, the ruling Awami League-led coalition held two rounds of talks with the Oikya, but rejected their calls maintaining that the polls must be held according to the Constitution.
The Oikya Front urged the Election Commission to defer the announcement of the schedule until the ‘political impasse’ ends through talks.
In his address to the nation on Thursday, CEC Huda said they were constitutionally bound to hold the election by Jan 28 as the countdown to the polls has already began.
"A favourable situation prevails in the country to hold a free and fair election,” he said adding almost all preparations for an election were already complete.
He said the political parties had already started preparing for the vote while analysts and experts are expressing their views and recommendations, TV stations are airing talk shows, newspapers are running special stories, and many local and foreign organisations have expressed eagerness to observe the election.
The Election Commission chief urged parties to resolve issues in a ‘political way’ and said that they expect political parties to act responsibly to avoid acts of vengeance and violence stemming from competition.
In his speech to announce the schedule, the CEC outlined a series of measures to ensure a level playing field.
The Commission will strictly monitor the some 700,000 election officials and initiate “legal measures” against those who will fail to perform their duties, said Huda. “The law enforcers have been instructed not to harass or prosecute voters, political activists, candidates, their supporters and agent without a genuine reason.”
The CEC said they will make sure the people can exercise their franchises freely and equal opportunities for all the parties and candidates.