The Election Commission will announce the schedule for four city corporation elections next month aiming to hold the polls at the end of April.
‘We will announce the schedule next month for elections to four city corporations and hope that the government will create an environment enabling the people to go for electioneering,’ chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda said during the second round of dialogue with the Jatiya Party on Monday.
Most of the political parties, which participated in the ongoing EC-sponsored second round of talks on electoral reforms, however, opposed holding of local government elections before the parliamentary polls.
‘We will hold elections to the city corporations as a trial run of our newly prepared voters’ roll with photographs though most of the political parties do not support this ahead of the parliamentary elections’, Huda said.
The four city corporations are Rajshahi, Khulna, Barisal and Sylhet. The draft voters’ lists of these four areas were published on February 18 and now are kept on display for corrections.
All three election commissioners led by CEC on February 5 called on the chief adviser to the caretaker government and urged to create environment for polls in four city corporations and seven municipalities where elections will be held in April.
‘The government will decide how it will create a congenial atmosphere for polls, either by lifting emergency or relaxing it,’ Huda said hoping that a decision in this regards will be taken early next month.
The ministry of local government and election commission, meanwhile, is preparing a set of new electoral code of conduct including new eligibility criteria for candidates for local government polls.
Local government adviser Anwarul Iqbal is scheduled to hold a meeting with chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda to set the qualifications and disqualifications of the candidates for the local government elections in line with the recommendations of local government strengthening committee headed by AMM Shawkat Ali, now an adviser to the government.
No political leaders holding any party post or holding any office of profit could contest in the polls, according to the draft of the new electoral rules for local government.
The CEC on Wednesday said that the EC is planning to hold televised debates between the candidates to the four city corporation polls, which may be broadcast on BTV and local private channels.
‘If the city corporation election broadcasts are successful we will hold similar debates for the national polls,’ said the CEC said.
The EC’s roadmap towards holding the stalled ninth parliamentary polls by December this year, stipulated that all the overdue elections to city corporations, municipal corporations, and union and upazila councils should be held before the general elections. The commission later modified the plan, seeking to complete the overdue city corporation and some municipality elections before the parliamentary polls.