How to overcome obstacles to credible elections?

How to overcome obstacles to credible elections?

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Another reason for the crisis of confidence in the Election Commission is the mysterious defeat of the outgoing Mayor Mr. Monirul Haq in the Cumilla City Corporation elections by the results of the last four centers which came several hours after the polls closed using EVMs. , In the same election, AKM Bahauddin MP was asked by the Election Commission to leave the municipal corporation area, but the commission changed its stance after he refused to comply.

Moreover, the registration of two so-called ‘King’s parties’, whose names we never heard, while ignoring other active political parties, damaged the reputation of the Election Commission. Leaving out the big fish like the Returning Officer and the Superintendent of Police in the Gaibandha-5 by-election and blaming the small fries of electoral malpractices and not punishing them despite the Commission having the legal authority to do so, also contributed to the confidence of the Election Commission. For the crisis of.

The reputation of the Election Commission has been further compromised by curbing its powers by replacing the word ‘election’ with ‘voting’ in Section 91A of the RPO and then rejecting it. It remained silent about the police filing thousands of fake cases against the political opposition and other repressive measures, destroying the homogeneity of the electoral field and raising questions about the neutrality of the Commission. Ignoring the well-established definition of election, which involves choosing among credible alternatives, and claiming that it does not matter who participates in the election or who does not, damages the credibility of the Commission. All such actions have brought people’s confidence in the Election Commission to its lowest level. Under such circumstances, one of the agenda of the proposed talks should be reconstitution of the Election Commission with honest and reputable persons.

Also, to ensure a competitive election environment, strict action should be taken against those who commit violence. According to the opposition BNP, several of its workers have been killed and many injured in violence by the police and the ruling party over the past year. If those responsible for such violence are identified and punished through an independent investigation, a peaceful atmosphere for the elections can be ensured.

If registration of fake cases and arrests are stopped and proceedings in previous cases are suspended, a competitive election environment can be ensured. According to information provided by the BNP, from 2009 to 2023, more than 138,000 cases have been filed against their 4 million leaders and activists, Voice of America reported (28 September 2023).

according to a new York Times (2 September 2023) Article, ‘Quietly crushing democracy: millions on trial in Bangladesh’, such repression was possible because ‘during her (Sheikh Hasina’s) 14 years in office, she captured Bangladesh’s institutions including the police, army have taken. Increasingly, the courts are filling up with loyalists and making clear the consequences of not following the rules.

He has used these institutions to suppress dissent – ​​his targets have included artists, journalists, activists, and even Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus – and to wage deeply personal campaigns of vengeance against his political enemies. For.’

On behalf of Shujaan, we have long been advocating for a ‘National Charter’ to be drafted through dialogue between political parties and signed by them to address the flaws in our electoral system and overhaul the state. In recent meetings across the country, our proposal received almost unanimous support from all stakeholders including political parties, businessmen, civil society and youth. Therefore, we reiterate the recommendation of the recent IRI and NDI-led US pre-election assessment mission and again call on our political parties to engage in meaningful dialogue with an open mind to find a credible and long-term solution to the current impasse. In the past, negotiations were mediated by representatives of the Commonwealth and UN Secretaries-General or local ambassadors. Our proposal is that this time too the talks should be held without any delay in the mediation of any such party.

* Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar is the secretary of Shushahonor Jonno Nagorik (Shujaan).

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