Bangladesh National Election's New Date December 30, 2018: EC
12:00 AM, November 13, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:52 AM, November 13, 2018

Polls now on December 30

EC defers voting day by a week; Oikyafront sticks to demand for month's deferral

The national polls would be held on December 30, according to the revised schedule announced by the Election Commission yesterday.

The decision comes four days after the commission announced that the polls would be held on December 23.

The Jatiya Oikyafront and the BNP-led alliance announced on Sunday that they would participate in the election and demanded that polling be deferred by a month. 

“In the light of their [Jatiya Oikyafront, BNP] decisions, we rescheduled the….election,” said Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda.

Inaugurating an exhibition of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the capital's Bangabandhu International Conference Center, he said, “It is a matter of relief for the commission that the BNP and others have decided to participate…. We wanted an election in which every party would take part.”

According to the revised schedule, the last day for filing nomination papers is November 28.

Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam yesterday told The Daily Star that registered political parties would have to decide whether they want to participate in the election as part of an alliance by Thursday.

However, the Jatiya Oikyafront, an alliance of the BNP and several other parties, rejected the revised schedule, saying that the polls should have been deferred by a month.

"We will not budge on our demand for deferral of the polls by a month. We will announce the next course of programme if our demand is not met,” said ASM Abdur Rab, a top leader of the Oikyafront.

Emerging from a meeting of the alliance, Rab criticised the EC for the new schedule. Many diplomats stationed in Dhaka would probably be on leave to celebrate the Christmas and New Year's at their homes at the time, he said.

"There will be no….international election observers in the country. The decision to hold the election on December 30 has been taken with an ill-motive,” he told reporters after the meeting of Oikyafront leaders at Dr Kamal Hossain's chamber in Motijheel yesterday.

According to the revised schedule, the scrutiny of the nomination papers by the returning officers would be done on December 2 and the deadline for withdrawing candidacy would be December 9.

The ruling Awami League, on the other hand, welcomed the new schedule for the 11th parliamentary election.

In his reaction, AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday said, “We hail the Election Commission's decision.”

He told reporters at the AL president's Dhanmondi office that the EC's “positive decision” was aimed at ensuring participation of all political parties.

EC FINDS NO VIOLATION

The AL and BNP activists have been marching and campaigning for their parties while buying nomination papers.

Locals said processions of AL supporters and possible candidates near the party president's Dhanmondi office have been causing traffic congestions in the area.

A similar picture was seen in Nayapaltan area, where BNP activists and leaders gathered to collect nomination papers yesterday.

Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam, however, does not see any breach of the code of conduct in such activities.

“Supporters of possible candidates are doing this. It is not violation of the electoral code,” he said.

The law only prohibits candidates and their supporters from electioneering. But the process of becoming the candidate is not over yet, he pointed out.

EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed on November 9 said, “Bringing out processions and staging showdowns are prohibited until the candidates are allotted electoral symbols.”

The secretary said the next day that he did not think the AL activists violated the electoral code of conduct.

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