Govt committed to free, fair national polls: Prime Minister

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday reaffirmed that her government is steadfast to hold a free and fair national election.

The premier made this remark when a group of incumbent and former election commissioners from India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal called on her at her Sangsad Bhaban office here.

They are former Chief Election Commissioner of India Dr S Y Quraishi, Chairman of Election Commission of the Maldives Fuwad Thowfeek, Chairman of Election Commission of Sri Lanka R M A L Rathnayake, Election Commissioner of Nepal Sagun Shumsher J B Rana and former Election Commissioner of Nepal Ila Sharma.

They are visiting Bangladesh at the invitation of the Election Monitoring Forum (EMF), which is an election watchdog consisting of incumbent and former election commissioners from neighbouring countries. Prime Minister’s  Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.

The premier mentioned that the election commission of Bangladesh has been constituted under “the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners Appointment Act, 2022”, saying “under the act, the chief election commissioner and other commissioners have been appointed. Moreover, the government has given absolute budgetary independence to the election commission.”

Sheikh Hasina, also President of the ruling Awami League, said that the Election Commission (EC) has already set several examples of holding elections including parliamentary by-elections and local government elections.

During the call on, the Prime Minister said female candidates alongside males can contest in 300 seats of Jatiya Sangsad, while there are also 50 seats reserved only for the females proportionally from the political parties representing to the parliament.

She added, referring to the 2018 general elections, she said that BNP took part in that elections by nominating 700 candidates in 300 seats and they changed their candidates time and again. “Even, the BNP withdrew their candidates from the polls on the day of voting to make the elections controversial.

The head of government also briefed about the picture of vote rigging in the past by the military dictators and BNP, saying one military dictator took over the power illegally violating the constitution and declared himself as President although he was Chief of Army Staff. She continued that “the military dictators ascended to the state power unconstitutionally and later formed political parties”.

About politics of BNP, Sheikh Hasina said, BNP has now no leadership and its top two leaders are convicted by court for their misdeeds and crimes. During the meeting, the delegation members said, they discussed the issue of next general election in Bangladesh with the Election Commission (EC).

“The EC of Bangladesh is very confident in holding national election in a free and fair manner,” said former Chief Election Commissioner of India Dr SY Quraishi. He said that the Indian Election Commission takes over the administrative power of the government during the election time.

Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary M Tofazzel Hossain Miah was present.

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