The Election Committee will today reveal what has been described as its roadmap for the 11th parliamentary election. The election of course is scheduled to take place between late 2018 and early 2019 and promises to be one more significant step toward the consolidation of democracy in the country. We note with happiness that since February 1991, despite some major issues affecting ties between the two major political parties of the country, democratic politics has moved on and the bad legacy of illegal and extra-constitutional rule has not recurred. That it has not remains a testimony to the determination of Bangladesh's people and its political classes to ensure a smooth growth of pluralism and continuity of representative government in the country.
It is this continuity that must form the basis of all plans by the Election Commission between now and the near future. We understand that its roadmap comprises seven significant points, all of which are aimed at guaranteeing an inclusive election involving the participation of all political parties. One cannot ignore the fact that there are yet politicians and parties who have been demanding a caretaker or interim administration to oversee the next election. The demand is pointless and indeed should not have been made, seeing that the caretaker system has already been removed through an amendment to the constitution.
What apologists for a caretaker system must now do is engage with the EC and suggest the ways and means by which it can be strengthened and its independence ensured. It is this strengthening of itself, independent of political or partisan influence, that the Chief Election Commissioner and his colleagues must now work toward bringing into fruition.
The EC plans to consult all political parties as it moves toward framing its election-related plans. That is a positive move and one cannot but surely approve of the efforts by the EC, which has been in office for the past five months, to make itself into a credible organization before the nation. These efforts should be reciprocated by the parties, particularly those which stayed away from the last general election held in January 2014. It is for them to step forward and put in their own efforts in adding substance to the EC's plans of making the next election a credible exercise.
Any arguing on their part that the EC is or will be partisan can only complicate matters. That ought not to be case. The EC needs all the help and encouragement it can come by, from both the ruling party and the opposition. A refusal to extend such help will only render the democratic process weak.
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