Ex-CEC Hena warns of crimes during polls
Former chief election commissioner Abu Hena has called upon all to stay alert to avert any untoward incidents during electioneering for the sake of free and fair polls and transition to stronger democracy.
"Three to four weeks before the national polls is a very critical time. There will be meetings, rallies, excitements and even rows. So, not only the government and the Election Commission, political parties must also be very alert," he said.
He was speaking at the inauguration of a training programme on Election Violence Monitoring launched yesterday by human rights organisation Odhikar in association with Washington-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) with support from The Asia Foundation and DFID at Caritas Development Institute in the capital.
A fair election requires a fair environment and therefore it is important for the government to withdraw the state of emergency, Hena said. He suggests that the government take measures to ensure law and order instead of keeping emergency.
Referring to the national elections in 1996 when he was CEC, Hena said, "We made arrangements in a manner so that criminals could not create anarchy. We even stopped plying of vehicles to check wrongdoings like polls rigging."
The authorities should think whether they would allow use of mobile phones on the election day, he said, adding cellphones can help both check and commit crimes.
Regretting that there is still a lack of healthy politics in Bangladesh, he said the election violence monitors must learn the rules and regulations for neutral observation.
"It's not enough just to observe the election violence. You must immediately inform the local administration," Hena said.
Talking on deferment of polls schedule, he said many may criticise EC for such changes, but "I would say they have done it so that all parties can take part in the polls."
He urged the training participants to make sure that assailants cannot influence women and minority people.
At least 80 people from 40 districts are scheduled to receive training in two workshops on November 26-27 and November 29-30. They will start election violence monitoring from December 13.
Odhikar acting director ASM Nasiruddin Elan, Secretary Adilur Rahman Khan, IFES Research Officer Lisa Kammerud and The Asia Foundation Deputy Country Representative Jerome Sayre also spoke.