The ninth parliamentary elections will be held on December 29 and the third upazila elections on January 22, the Election Commission announced on Sunday.
The chief election commissioner, ATM Shamsul Huda, in a jam-packed news conference after consultation with BNP and Awami League, announced the fresh polls schedules after the BNP-led alliance announced to contest the on condition of meeting three demands — complete withdrawal of state of emergency, nullifying section 91E of the representation of the people order and holding of upazila elections after one month of general elections.
According to the schedule for the national polls, the submission of nomination papers closes on November 30. The nomination papers will be scrutinised in December 3 and 4. The last date for the withdrawal of candidature is December 11.
For the upazila elections, the submission of nomination papers closes on December 13. Nomination paper scrutiny has been scheduled for December 17-19. The last date for the withdrawal of candidature is December 31.
Shamsul said the commission had to change the polls fixture for three times on reports from grassroots level that the time given to file the candidature was not enough for the candidates to provide necessary documents regarding information of eight categories.
‘Besides, the government was trying hard to bring the BNP-led alliance to elections and the commission also decided to discuss their latest demands and hold talks with them for past two days. We also talked to the great alliance and heard their version. Though none of them had any specific recommendation, we tried to reach an acceptable programme,’ Shamsul said.
Shamsuls said there was a demand from BNP-led alliance to nullify the section 91E of RPO but was not possible for the commission. ‘We thoroughly reviewed their apprehensions of probable misuse of the section and their fear of denying justice and talked to cross section of people and then reached to opinion that it should not be repealed. It also appeared to us that many of them may not study the section carefully and lack understanding about it,’ he said.
The chief election commissioner said earlier there were provisions to take action on verbal and written complaints and witnessing by the commissioners on any violation of electoral rules but this time the option verbal complaints has been removed.
‘There is no possibility of denying justice as the decision would be taken by the commission on majority of votes and if the defendant dislikes the decision, he would have the scope to go to the High Court,’ he added.
Shamsul said both the alliances emphasised on withdrawal of state of emergency although they said it was not duty of the commission but they asked us to make a strong recommendation to the government about lifting emergency. ‘And, we assured them that we recommend the government to lift emergency,’ he added.
Shamsul hoped the ninth Jatiya Sangsad and third upazila polls would be held in a festive mood with the participation of the people of all walks of life and the political parties will plunge into electioneering from Monday. ‘There is no scope to doubt over holding the elections,’ he said.
The chief election commissioner did not answer a question whether the upazila polls would be held during the regime of caretaker government or under the next government.
Other two commissioners Sohul Hossain and Sakhawat Hossain were also present at the briefing.
The 9th parliamentary polls scheduled for January 22, 2007 was cancelled amid widespread political turmoil.
The commission this time has registered 8,11,30,973 voters.