Not possible to hold 100pc fair polls
Election Commissioner Kabita Khanam yesterday said it would not be possible for the Election Commission to hold a “hundred percent fair” election.
“In no country elections are hundred percent fair. It will also not be possible in our country,” she said at a programme in the capital's Nirbachan Bhaban.
The daylong event was organised to brief the assistant returning officers (AROs) from Khulna, Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions.
Kabita said the EC would have to hold an acceptable national election which would be beyond any question.
On August 7, Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda had said it could not be guaranteed that there would be no anomalies in the general election.
Responding to a question from a journalist regarding alleged irregularities in city corporation polls, he said those elections were “satisfactory”.
“We don't think such irregularities will occur during the national election. However, we cannot ensure that there will be absolutely no irregularities anywhere in a national-level election,” the CEC added.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Former election commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Sakhawat Hussain said he was surprised by Kabita's comments.
“It will send a wrong message to the people as well as to the assistant returning officers who will be conducting the election at the field level.
“A respectable person like her, who is a former judge, should have been more careful about making such comments,” Sakhawat said.
Speaking at yesterday's programme, Kabita said the election officials would have to carry out their duties as per the EC's directives to maintain the “good environment” for elections, she said.
She sought cooperation from all to hold a free, fair and inclusive national election.
EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed asked the AROs to take necessary steps to remove all election campaign materials, including posters and banners of lawmaker hopefuls, by tomorrow.
He warned the assistant returning officers of holding them responsible if the job was not done by the deadline.
'STOP ARREST OF BNP MEN'
The BNP yesterday sought the CEC's intervention to stop filing of “false cases” and arrest of its leaders and activists ahead of the December 30 parliamentary polls.
In a letter to CEC Huda, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “We expect that your will intervene to stop filing of false and fictitious cases and the arrest of our party men by the law enforcers.”
Salah Uddin Khan, who keeps the record of cases against BNP men, handed over the letter to the official concerned at the CEC's office.
The BNP urged the EC to take necessary steps for the unconditional release of all the arrested leaders and activists of the party and the opposition alliance and withdrawal of all false cases against them.
The party also sent a list of 472 arrested BNP men and eight cases to the EC. All of them were arrested and the cases filed after the announcement of the polls schedule on November 8, according to the BNP.
At a meeting with the EC on Wednesday, newly formed opposition alliance Jatiya Oikyafront placed several demands before the commission.
Leaders of the Oikyafront, comprising of BNP and several other parties, also informed the EC about the recent reshuffles in the civil administration and “fictitious cases” filed against its leaders and activists.
The EC sought a list of arrestees who were picked up after the announcement of the polls schedule.
On November 8, the EC announced that the parliamentary polls would be held on December 23. Four days later, the commission revised the election schedule and set December 30 for voting.
Meanwhile, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar yesterday said army personnel would be stationed at a “reasonable distance” from the polling centres so that they can reach the centres within 20 to 30 minutes, if necessary.
“It will not be possible to deploy army at every polling centre,” Mahbub told reporters after exchanging views with returning and assistant returning officers and top officials of law enforcement agencies at the Mymensingh deputy commissioner's office.
He expressed optimism that the national election would be a free, fair and participatory one which would fulfill the people's expectations.
Our Mymensingh correspondent contributed to this report.