President’s dialogues end today

7 parties boycott, terming talks meaningless
President Abdul Hamid

The president's dialogue on the formation of the next Election Commission has become almost insignificant and lost its importance as multiple major political parties boycotted it one after another, said political analysts and parties.

Amid this situation, President Abdul Hamid is scheduled to wrap up his dialogue session today, after holding talks with the Awami League at the Bangabhaban.

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina will lead a 10-member party delegation to hold the dialogue with the president at 4:00pm.

Of 32 registered political parties, seven -- including BNP, Communist Party Bangladesh, Islamic Andolon Bangladesh, Liberal Democratic Party -- have boycotted the dialogue terming it "meaningless".

They said that the dialogue would not bring any fruitful results as the president had no power to go beyond the prime minister's advice as per the constitution.

According to the parties that boycotted the dialogue, none of the proposals they made in the previous two dialogues in 2012 and 2016 was materialised or evaluated.

As a result, there is no meaning to attend in the same dialogue that will not yield any result, they said.

In the dialogue, most of the political parties proposed Abdul Hamid for taking measures to enact a law on the formation of the EC for holding a free and fair national election.

Quoting Abdul Hamid, several political parties told media that the president told them that he would try to look into the matter although he had limited power in this regard as per the constitution.

Talking to The Daily Star, Transparency International Bangladesh Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said the importance of the dialogue lies in its value as an initiative by the highest office of the state, and ideally all parties would have done well to their political cause if they participated and communicated their expectations for whatever worth.

"On the other hand, in terms of its possible substantive outcome, there have always been doubts and debates. It was clear from the beginning that the aspirations of a truly neutral, capable and credible EC remained a far cry as ministers have been continually ruling out the possibility of enacting the constitutionally mandated law needed for the purpose," he added.

Dr Akbar Ali Khan, a noted economist and a former adviser to the caretaker government, recently commented that the formation of a search committee would yield no good results as the EC would be constituted with the persons picked by the government.

As per the constitution, the EC should be formed under law, but this law has not been enacted yet in Bangladesh.

The new EC will have to arrange the 12th national election between November 2023 and January 2024.

As a result, issues such as under whom the next election is taking place, how the commission will be formed have become important to different political parties.

The two previous ECs were formed mainly with the people by the choice of the Awami League and its allies, according to many political parties.

It is believed that it will be no exception this time.

As a result, the dialogue with the president is nothing more than a formality, commented different political parties.

The tenure of the current EC, led by KM Nurul Huda, will expire on February 14.

President Abdul Hamid is likely to form a search committee within a day or two after wrapping up his dialogue.

The search committee will seek the names of eligible candidates from the political parties. Then they will give a shortlist of those names to the President.

From that list, the president will appoint the Chief Election Commissioner and other commissioners.