EC to judge electoral atmosphere before declaring schedule -The Asian Age

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal said on Monday that the Election Commission will judge the electoral atmosphere before coming up with election schedule. The 12th parliamentary election is going to be held in January 2024.

The Election Commission (EC) will continue monitoring the voting environment before announcing the polls schedule, said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal on Monday. He was talking to the media at Nirbachan Bhaban (election building) in the capital's Agargaon area.

The CEC was asked if the EC has started acting on the voting environment since it has the jurisdiction to take action prior to announcing the election schedule. The opposition is claiming that there is no environment for voting in the country now. Responding to the question, CEC Kazi Habibul Awal said this is a very tough question to which he is unable to answer right now.

He said they would continue observing the voting environment. This is called projection. The polling would be held after three months, or four months, or six months; but their observation and projection must remain vigilant.

Kazi Habibul Awal said, for example, you think the deputy commissioners form an association tomorrow, and all of them come to Dhaka to say that they would bring a certain political party in power this time. The election will be held after six more months. But would the EC maintain silence on the emerging situation?

They will have to be given a directive that they cannot act in that way.

The CEC further stated that deputy commissioner is an important post. In many cases they act as returning officers, and oversee law and order situations as magistrates during the election. That's why the EC would never want any DC acts in a partisan way. The EC would never want anything like that, he insisted.

Responding to another question on any repetition of steps like withdrawing Jamalpur DC, Habibul Awal said they surely would take such steps if they find it necessary.

The EC in its roadmap mentioned a few challenges including ensuring a level playing field and controlling the administration.
When asked, the Chief Election Commissioner declined to make any comment on the matter.

He also declined to answer a question right now whether any person can seek a vote now.

Kazi Habibul Awal was asked, he (Awal) said they have scope to act on the voting environment even before announcing polls schedule. In that case, does the commission have jurisdiction to say anything when the prime minister is seeking a vote during her official visits?

To this Habibul Awal said he can't answer the question right away. Everyone is speaking about the election. The BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) is speaking, the Awami League, the Jatiya Party is also speaking from their own points of view. But if the prime minister says, "Don't vote for anyone except me," in that case they (the EC) surely can intervene. But everyone is seeking a vote now. That's why they did not examine the issue that way, he added.

Speaking about the takeaways of the EC in its recent dialogues with noted citizens, Habibul Awal said they believe in transparency. Awakening a sense of responsibility is one of their duties. The government, the politicians and many other people have responsibilities like the Election Commission.

Habibul Awal thought this dialogue might put pressure on everyone or awaken a sense of responsibility among them.