Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda yesterday asked the assistant returning officers to ensure equal opportunity for all candidates during the 11th general election scheduled for December 30.
“It is your duty to provide equal opportunity to all candidates. You should not deprive anyone within the bounds of the law or allow anyone to get extra benefits,” Huda told the AROs of Dhaka and Mymensingh divisions at a day-long briefing at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the capital.
“You should consider a candidate as a candidate irrespective of their position.
“Carry out your duties with professionalism. Ensure full compliance of electoral code,” he said at the briefing which was open to journalists.
Later, in a closed-door session with EC officials, the AROs asked what they would do if a minister or an MP were involved in the electioneering and whether they would get protocol.
Quoting the EC officials' reply, at least three AROs said they were asked to treat even those with such posts as any other candidates and the general rules and regulations should be followed.
The AROs also asked if they would invite MPs to the official Victory Day programmes on December 16 to be held at upazila level.
The EC said that they could invite them as politicians and ensure that no political address takes place at the programme.
When the AROs asked what to do in the case of religious programmes where political speeches were given, the EC said the commission would instruct them on it later, said sources.
The EC has extended its deadline for removing publicity material, such as banners and posters, within three days.
All political parties, their leaders and candidate hopefuls now have until November 17 to remove their posters, banners and other publicity materials, EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said at the briefing.
ENSURE SECURITY FOR MINORITIES
In a letter, the EC on Tuesday night asked the home ministry to ensure security for minorities and maintain communal harmony for a peaceful election.
They also asked the public security division secretary to launch a drive against illegal arms, said an EC joint secretary.
The commission, in another letter, asked the secretary of the financial institutions division of the finance ministry to provide information on loan defaulters among possible candidates to the returning officers.