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BNP says it won’t join president’s talks to form Election Commission

The party last week had said it would
think about attending the dialogue after getting a formal invitation. But
Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced their final decision on
Wednesday, terming the talks “a meaningless” exercise.

He said the party took the decision in a
National Standing Committee meeting, presided over by Acting Chairperson
Tarique Rahman, on Monday before getting the invitation.

The BNP had participated in the last
parliamentary polls and the talks to form the EC before the elections after the
boycott of the 2014 polls held with the Awami League government in power.

This time the opposition party has been saying
it will not join the talks or elections even unless its demand for a
non-partisan, election-time caretaker government is not met.

Fakhrul had hinted at a change of heart
last week, saying they would take the final decision about joining the talks after
getting the invitation.

“The BNP thinks a dialogue on the
formation the Election Commission is a waste of time without constitutional
assurances for a neutral government and administration during elections in the
current political climate of Bangladesh,” Fakhrul said in a statement on
Wednesday.

He claimed the Election Commission will
never be able to independently deliver free and fair elections if a political
party remains in power during the polls.

“The president himself said he does not
have the power to bring changes. So, the president‘s talks with the political
parties will not yield positive results. The BNP will not take part in a
meaningless dialogue.”

The statement also said it had submitted
specific proposals to the president before the previous talks, but “every
effort failed because the Awami League was in power during the polls”.

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The “utter failure” of the Election
Commission formed after those talks “destroyed the electoral system of the
country” while the Awami League “blocked all the ways for democracy to flourish
by repealing the caretaker government system”, it added. 

Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal, or BaSad,
led by Khalequzzaman, had earlier announced the boycott of the president’s
talks.

The current Election Commission, led by
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, will run its term on Feb 14, 2022.
The president has opened talks with registered political parties to discuss
their views on the formation of a new Election Commission.

In the absence of a law to appoint
election commissioners, the power to appoint an election commissioner is vested
in the president, in line with the Constitution.

Late president Zillur Rahman had formed
the previous Election Commission by selecting a committee to shortlist names of
possible candidates for the posts of the election commissioners and their
chief.

Hamid had followed suit the next time to
appoint CEC Huda and the commissioners from the names recommended by the search
committee.

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