Electoral system issues: Hold dialogue for a solution
Speakers at a roundtable discussion yesterday said the country's political parties need to hold dialogue to find a solution for an inclusive and participatory next parliamentary election.
As the election is nearing, concerns are mounting regarding violence centring the polls since the two top political parties are poles apart on electoral system issues, they told the roundtable organised virtually by Shushashoner Jonnoy Nagorik (Shujan) on "Compromise or Violence: On What Path are We?"
Shujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar said dialogue among political parties should be held not only to resolve issues regarding the upcoming election but also to find a long-term and sustainable solution.
In the past 52 years, it was not possible to ensure an effective and sustainable system for holding free and acceptable elections, he said.
There is a crisis in the country centring on the upcoming election and an immediate solution is not in sight, said eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik.
"We believe the solution should be found through dialogue," he said, adding, that although there is not enough time, some issues could be resolved in the next few months.
Daily Manabzamin Editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury said politicians themselves have to take the first step to bring the required reform to the country's politics.
He said there is little room to be optimistic amid the current situation since the society is divided and one cannot expect much from a divided society.
Considering the percentage of received votes in past elections, the two biggest political parties are more or less "equal", said local government expert Tofail Ahmed.
So, good governance and progress of the society will not be ensured if any of them does not participate in the upcoming election, he added.
Former Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain said many new political parties are "growing like mushrooms" ahead of the parliamentary election, stressing there should be a "political party act" in the country to determine their code of conduct.
He also said by bringing an amendment to the Representation of the People Order (RPO), the election commission has "given up" its power to the government.
Prof Robaet Ferdous of Dhaka University said the country's constitution should be amended limiting a person's prime ministership no more than twice.
Journalist Sohrab Hassan said if politicians were able to run the country "in line with the constitution" a polls-time neutral government might have not been required.
Among others, Awami League lawmaker Mohammad Ali Arafat, BNP leader Rumeen Farhana and Jatiya Party lawmaker Shameem Haider Patwary spoke.