EC now invites Delwar to talks | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 29, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 29, 2008

Party Registration

EC now invites Delwar to talks

The Election Commission (EC) yesterday back-pedalled on its previous decision, inviting BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain to talks beginning from September 6 with political parties on registration issue.
Ignoring objections of Delwar-led faction of BNP, the commission on November 5 last year invited Saifur-Hafizuddin-led group to the electoral reform talks 'recognising' them as the mainstream BNP.
The EC has now refrained from inviting the same faction and invited Delwar to the talks in efforts to ensure the party's participation in the next parliamentary elections planned in December.
In the face of increasing differences between the political parties and the commission on registration, EC yesterday decided to open talks to resolve the differences. The commission has also sent invitation letters to 16 parties asking them to send delegation to the talks, EC sources say.
According to the schedule, EC will sit with the parties in four days to discuss the difficulties they are facing to get registered with the commission, the sources add.
The EC has already announced that political parties must apply by October 15 to get registered on fulfilling a set of criteria. But the political parties are vehemently opposing the move saying it is not possible to complete the procedures within the "short time".
"We want to be informed about the difficulties the political parties are facing regarding registration," Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda told reporters yesterday afternoon.
In defence of inviting Delwar this time, he said EC took the decision in the wake of prevailing "situation". He however did not elaborate on the situation.
He argued that the commission had earlier sat with a faction of BNP and will now sit with another.
The EC held electoral reform talks with Saifur-led faction on April 27 this year.
BNP leaders loyal to detained party chief Khaleda Zia refuse to take part in the parliamentary polls held under the current EC, accusing it of engaging in "conspiracy" to split the party.
They demand immediate release of Khaleda and her son Tarique Rahman and say they would not take part in the polls without her.
Amid the situation, the CEC on Monday said national elections without BNP will not be "acceptable".
The caretaker government is also trying to ensure BNP's participation in the upcoming parliamentary polls. The government has repeatedly said it is working to release Khaleda.
In a latest development, Delwar and Ali Ahasan Mohammad Mojahid, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, a component of BNP-led four-party alliance, were allowed to meet Khaleda at the sub-jail on the Jatiya Sangsad premises yesterday.
The leaders discussed the current political situation with the alliance chief.
"BNP will join the dialogue as soon as the government releases Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman," Delwar said after the meeting.
Before kicking off the planned talks, EC might hold talks with Awami League (AL) as the party has earlier sought its appointment to discuss some important issues.
The EC thinks the meeting between the commission and the party might be held on September 4.
The EC Secretariat in the letters sent to the general secretaries/secretary generals requested the parties to join the talks on registration on the specific date.
According to the schedule, EC will sit separately with the Workers Party of Bangladesh, Samyabadi Dal, Ganotantri Party and Jatiya Party on September 6.
Talks with the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu) and BNP are scheduled for September 7.
The commission will sit separately with the Liberal Democratic Party, Islami Oikya Jote, Jatiya Party (Manju) and Jamaat-e-Islami on September 8.
Talks with Krishak Sramik Janata League, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Rab), National Awami Party and AL are scheduled for September 9.
The EC had earlier held talks with the 16 parties twice seeking their opinions on electoral reform proposals.
During the next talks other issues like upazila elections and date for parliamentary polls might be discussed.
Meanwhile, eight political parties yesterday collected application forms for registration with EC.
The parties are -- Liberal Democratic Party, National People's Party, Sacheton Nagorik Samaj, Khelafat Majlis, Nirdoliya Jano Andolan, Jamaate Olama Dal and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Malek-Ratan), insiders say.

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