CEC pledges to ensure level playing field in national polls

DHAKA, Nov 8, 2018 : With a pledge to ensure a level playing field for all candidates in the upcoming general elections, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda today urged all political parties to take part in the polls to keep going the country’s democratic polity and development.

“Strict directives would be issued to the law enforcement agencies to ensure the voters, political leaders, workers, candidates, their (candidates) supporters and polling agents are not subjected to harassment and do not face cases without any reasons,” he said in his address to the nation, unveiling the schedule for the 11th parliamentary elections.

Huda said the primary procedures to employ around seven lakh officials under different categories for conducting the elections have already been completed. “Executive and judicial magistrates have been appointed for every constituency. Around six lakh members of law enforcement agencies, including police, BGB, RAB, Coast Guard, Ansar and Village Defence Party, will be deployed centering the ensuing polls,” he said.

He said armed forces will also be deployed in aid of the law enforcement agencies to maintain law and order.

Pointing to the constitutional obligations, Huda said, “Constitution stipulates to hold the 11th parliamentary elections within January 28, 2019. The countdown of the national election has already begun and the works of buying polls materials and printing have been completed.”

He said election related issues were discussed at the inter-ministerial meetings and the officials of the Election Commission have devoted themselves to the electoral duties.

The CEC said the political parties have already begun their preparations ahead of the general elections. “The civil society members and political commentators are expressing their opinions. Different media are publishing different articles, opinions and recommendations on election while TV channels are arranging talk shows centering the polls”, he added.

Huda said senior political leaders held dialogues with the Prime Minister for holding a participatory and fair election. “Besides, many organizations from home and abroad are expressing their interests to observe the polls. Congenial atmosphere has been created across the country for holding the upcoming parliamentary elections,” he added.

Expressing his optimism that the candidates and their supporters will obey the electoral laws and code of conduct, Huda said, “Every voter will cast vote in favour of their chosen candidate freely. The executive and judicial magistrates will ensure the enforcement of law and the law enforcers will ensure the security of the voting centers, voters, candidates, polling officials and agents.”

He hoped that the observers will perform their duties by maintaining the rules of the Election Commission. The Election Commission Secretariat will monitor overall situation.

Urging the political parties to reduce conflicts and complexities of diverse opinions politically, Huda said the parliament election creates the opportunities for establishing the ownership rights of the common people and creating room for forming a new government.

He expressed the hope that the election would be held in a contesting mode and a participatory manner with participation of all political parties.

The CEC said the commission is giving importance on using technology in election management. The candidates can submit their nomination forms by hand or through online, he added.

He said an initiative has been taken to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) on a limited scale along with old system in the national elections.

“We believe that the use of EVMs will bring about a qualitative change in elections and it will save time, money and reduce works,” said Nurul Huda.