Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday said the Awami League has taken the country to the “highway of development”.
“The crown is on Sheikh Hasina’s head for expanding science and technology and preserving the environment through ensuring development in education, social, economic and infrastructure in every sector. Today, Bangladesh has become a middle-income country under the leadership of the prime minister,” he said.
According to the CEC, almost all the laws and regulations of the Election Commission were formulated during the tenure of the AL government and his office was enjoying more freedom in comparison to ECs in many other countries.
He lauded the AL and Hasina this way at the start of yesterday’s dialogue between the commission and the party at the Nirbachan Bhaban in Agargaon.
Led by General Secretary Obaidul Quader, a 22-member AL delegation placed an 11-point proposal to the EC during the formal talks on the upcoming national elections.
Emerging from the around two-and-a-half hours meeting, Quader said their discussion was “positive and constructive” and that they placed the proposals for a fairer, more neutral and acceptable election.
He also said the CEC termed the proposals “neutral”.
The proposals included introduction of electronic voting machines (EVMs), ensuring proper execution of existing electoral laws and regulations to prevent the use of illegal money and muscle power, taking strict action against public servants for irresponsible behaviour and appointing presiding and assistant presiding officers only from government officials.
The AL also requested the EC to ensure transparency and be careful in appointing local and foreign observers.
On the deployment of armed forces during the polls, the party referred to Section 129 to 131 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and army rules which say army may be deployed in aid of civil power.
The AL also proposed not to go for any fresh demarcation as the party thinks it might create legal complications.
Along with the proposals, the party handed over a document to the commission where it mentioned another 11 proposals for holding a free, fair and neutral election.
These proposals included keeping the administration and the law enforcement agencies under the supervision of the Election Commission during the polls and limiting the election-time government’s jurisdiction to the essential routine work only.
Earlier on January 11, the party had placed an 11-point proposal during its dialogue with President Abdul Hamid on the formation of a new EC.
Asked whether he discussed the CEC’s recent comment on Gen Ziaur Rahman with the EC, Quader said, “We asked [it] and got our answer. But [we] don’t want to say anything in this regard. If needed, the Election Commission will come up with the explanation.”
Sources in the meeting, however, said there was no discussion on the matter during yesterday’s talks.
During the EC’s electoral talks with the BNP on Sunday, the CEC lauded the party’s founder Ziaur Rahman, which aggrieved many AL leaders. That day, Huda said Ziaur Rahman restored multi-party democracy in the country.
The sources said during yesterday’s meeting, many AL leaders advised the CEC to remain careful while making any comments as those might be misinterpreted.
One of the leaders told The Daily Star that they requested the CEC to “consider himself as a constitutional post instead of a person before making comments”.
At his introductory speech, CEC Nurul Huda said after the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the Awami League had to face a tough time when Sheikh Hasina returned from abroad and took the helm of the party.
“Awami League participated in the national polls in 1986 and Sheikh Hasina became a member of parliament,” he added.
The AL formed governments under her leadership in 1996, 2008 and 2014. He also said trials of Bangabandhu killing case and war crimes cases were held under her leadership.
The CEC also talked about the history of Bangladesh, the 1952 Language Movement, Mass Uprising in 1969, the country’s independence and Bangabandhu’s role in achieving the independence.
After its meeting with the commission, the 22-member AL team met Hasina at the Gono Bhaban, the official residence of the prime minister, last night।
There, the PM said her party did everything possible so that a neutral election can take place and termed the proposals placed by AL “people’s proposals”.