Political parties, in their election manifestos, should announce in specific terms their intention of reforming the constitutional bodies and party organogram to ensure good governance and democratic environment. They should also mention their work plans for the first 100 days, one year, three years and five years if they are elected to power.
Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), a civil society platform, yesterday made these calls at a press conference on “Nirbachoni Ishtehar: Nagorik Bhabna” [election manifesto: citizens' thoughts] at the Jatiya Press Club in Dhaka.
Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of Shujan, read out a proposal at the event. Noted columnist Syed Abul Maksud, President of Shujan M Hafizuddin Khan and environmental activist Rizwana Hasan were also present.
In the written statement, Badiul focused on nine specific issues which Shujan wants to see included in the election manifestos.
The issues are: ensuring basic human rights, democracy and good governance; strengthening the constitutional institutions; completion of the trial of war criminals; economic, social and environmental development; and announcement of timeline to implement the manifesto.
“We hope that all political parties will clarify their stand on values of the Liberation War and commitment to principles of the state including democracy, secularism and social justice,” said Badiul.
The Shujan secretary also said they want commitment from the parties on reformation of the electoral process, state constitution (polls-time government, two-chamber assembly, rational representation etc.), decentralisation of power, and implementation of 50 percent ADP projects through local government, etc.
Appointments to the constitutional institutions – including Election Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission, executive and judicial departments – should be more transparent, and based on competency and determination of the candidates.
Shujan also demanded clear announcement on ensuring human rights by putting a stop to forced disappearance and extra-judicial killing, ensuring security of the minorities and independence of the media and citizens, and reformation of different repressive acts including the Digital Security Act.
“International treaties should be presented at the parliament [for review],” Badiul said.
He also urged political parties to announce action plans to bring stability in the economic sector, encouraging investment, reduction of unemployment, ensuring food security and health service, gender equity and proper use of demographic dividend.
M Hafizuddin Khan, president of Shujan, said, “We want the national election to be transparent and as per the law but no government has done it in 47 years.”
Advocate Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, said contemporary politics cannot be termed “positive”.
She also criticised the EC's announcement to monitor social media and urged political parties to create a culture of dialogue.
'RULING ALLIANCE LEADERS WORKING AS EC'S PRO'
Meanwhile, Syed Abul Maksud said that the leaders of the ruling alliance are working as “public relations officer” (PRO) of the Election Commission (EC).
“Every day they [ruling alliance leaders] are praising the EC; it's a joke… They should not be doing this,” said Maksud.
Talking to reporters following the conference, he also said that the EC is under an “invisible pressure” and is failing to perform properly. The EC should perform its responsibilities as per the constitution to hold a free, fair and credible election, he said.