Ensuring level playing field under political govt: EC to face big challenge: TIB

Staff Correspondent

The Transparency International Bangladesh said on Sunday that its research showed the Election Commission would not be able to ensure a level playing field for all if the polls are held keeping a political government in place before dissolution of parliament.
The research also found that the 15th amendment to the constitution, which was incorporated in 2011, has destroyed the scope for a level-playing field for all political parties.
‘Ensuring level-playing field under a political government will be a primary challenge for the EC as it is not possible for the EC to carry out all election-related activities alone,’ TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said while summing up the organisation’s research report.
The TIB disclosed the report of its research titled ‘Effective Development of Election Commission : Challenge and Ways to Overcome’ at a programme at the BRAC Centre Inn.
The research covered issues facing the EC ahead of the 10th parliamentary election.
Iftekharuzzaman said a controversy would brew up over the election results if the polls are held keeping a political government in place. ‘There should be such a government in place during the polls in which all the contesting political parties can keep faith.’
‘It will be very difficult for the EC to prevent the potential influence of the ministers and members of parliament in the elections,’ he observed.
The TIB called on the EC to discard its plan to appoint the deputy commissioners as the returning officers in the 10th parliamentary polls and instead to appoint its own officials to block the path of exerting any undue influence on the field level officials during the polling.
‘We all know how politicised the government machinery has become. Hence, we cannot rely on the DCs,’ Iftekharuzzaman noted.
TIB trustee M Hafizuddin Khan, also an adviser to a past caretaker government, asked the EC to employ returning officers from among the district election officials.
The TIB criticised the EC for its ‘failure’ to play a ‘pro-active role’ to end breaching of electoral of conducts in the recently held local government polls.
The TIB research showed though there have been some significant improvements in the country’s electoral system, the EC still has some lackings.
Apart from some internal challenges, the EC is to face some external challenges including type of election-time government, its dependence on the government in framing electoral laws and administrative influence.
‘These external factors largely influence the polling system,’ the TIB finding said.
The 15th amendment to the constitution has incorporated a provision that the general elections would be held in 90 days before dissolution of parliament keeping the current-government in office.
The current ninth parliament will expire on January 24, 2014.

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