Nat’l election likely between January 6 and 9
The Election Commission may hold the national election any day between January 6 and 9 with many experts pointing out that the atmosphere is not yet conducive to free and fair polls.
The EC is considering several possible dates, but there is a strong possibility that the 12th national election will be held in the first week of January, an official said, adding that the final decision will depend on the political situation.
In late September, Election Commissioner Anisur Rahman also said the next national election might be held in the first week of January.
Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Ahsan Habib Khan told The Daily Star that the EC is preparing to announce the polls schedule by the first half of this month.
EC representatives will make a courtesy call on President Mohammed Shahabuddin on November 9 and announce the schedule either on November 13 or 14, said an official.
It is customary for the commissioners to finalise election schedules after they meet the president.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal met Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan earlier this month. The commissioners also held meetings with top officers of law enforcement agencies, different ministries, and leaders of 27 political parties.
The election commissioners want 65 days between the announcement of the schedule and the election, officials said.
During the period, officials will scrutinise the nomination papers and dispose of appeals filed by candidates whose nomination papers are scrapped.
The candidates will get around three weeks to run election campaigns.
The EC may appoint returning officers and assistant returning officers a few days before the schedule is announced, said officials, adding that as per the current plan, ballot papers will reach the polling centres on the morning of election day.
As per its preparation, the EC has redrawn 10 constituencies, registered two new political parties, updated the voters' list, made a primary list of 42,350 polling centres, shipped most of the election material to the districts, amended the law, approved 67 local polls observers, and invited applications from international observers and journalists.
As per the voters' list, there are 11,96,91,633 voters.
On Saturday, more than a third of the registered political parties, including the BNP, boycotted the EC's talks. And some of the parties that joined the dialogue observed that the current situation is not conducive to a free and fair election.
According to former election commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain, the country is going through a political turmoil and the situation is not conducive to free and fair polls.
Election Commissioner Habib said at different meetings, all officials were given the instructions needed for holding a free and fair election.
As a constitutional body, the EC is doing everything to conduct free, fair, participatory and credible elections, he said, adding that the EC is making sincere efforts to ensure a proper atmosphere for the voters.
"On November 4, the political parties were informed about the commission's preparations, and the commissioners listened to their suggestions. Our message to all political parties is that if there is a disagreement, resolve it and participate in the election," he said.