Dhaka,   Thursday 30 November 2023

The South Asian Times | সাউথ এশিয়ান টাইমস

Election Commission open to rescheduling polls if BNP formally requests

Published: 15:27, 20 November 2023

Election Commission open to rescheduling polls if BNP formally requests

The Election Commission is open to considering rescheduling the upcoming national election if the BNP and other parties decide to participate, Election Commissioner Rashida Sultana said.
In this scenario, the BNP is required to formally inform the Election Commission about its intention to join the election.
She made the statement in response to queries at her office in the Election Commission Secretariat.
Rashida Sultana said: “Have confidence in us. You (BNP) will get a free, fair, and peaceful election where everyone will get a chance to exercise their franchise freely. If they (BNP) express formal interest, the Election Commission is open to creating space through discussions.”
She emphasized the Election Commission's willingness to welcome parties back into the electoral process, reinforcing the idea that once a decision is made to participate, they will not be turned away.
The Election Commission announced the poll schedule on November 15, a decision that was rejected by the BNP and like-minded parties.
In protest of the schedule and to emphasize their demand for elections under a non-partisan caretaker government, the BNP and its allies called for a two-day hartal starting Sunday.
The election commissioner reiterated the Election Commission's desire for a well-conducted election with the participation of all parties.
According to Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal's announcement, the 12th national election is scheduled to take place on January 7.
Nomination papers can be submitted until November 30, with the selection process scheduled from December 1 to 4. The last date for withdrawal of nomination papers is December 17.
Symbols will be allotted on December 18, with 14 days allocated for the submission of nomination papers and 19 days for campaigning. The campaigning period is set to conclude 48 hours before polling, providing an opportunity for candidates to campaign from December 18 to January 5.
Responding to questions about BNP's potential return to the polls, Rashida Sultana referred to previous instances where opportunities were provided, stressing that decisions would be made in accordance with the law.
She said the commission wants to organize an inclusive election.
Referring to the 2018 election, Rashida Sultana mentioned that space was created for parties like BNP, emphasizing that the commission would follow the law while making provisions for their participation.
However, she refrained from providing detailed information, stating that discussions and decisions would be made if BNP decides to return.
Addressing concerns raised by the Jatiya Party about the last day for filing returns coinciding with the last day for filing nominations, Rashida Sultana refrained from making premature statements.
She assured that decisions would be made based on the evolving situation. “If there is a need to extend the time, we will extend for sure.”
In response to inquiries about the political situation, Rashida Sultana said: "Surely there is still space for participatory elections. I don't need to tell you whether it is calm or turbulent when there is a division in politics. You can see. People can see it. But although there is turmoil right now, there is no saying that it will not be calm. The situation can calm down at any moment.”

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