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No room for debate on EC discussions with president, says law minister

At a Dhaka Reporters Unity event on Wednesday, the minister said he also wanted a new law to specify the rules for the formation of a new EC, but that it would not be possible in time for the new appointments, and he was unwilling to do it through an ordinance.

“It is impossible. We are not prepared to sidestep the government and parliament to pass a new constitutional ordinance on the formation of the Election Commission.”

“The honourable president is meeting with the parties for dialogue. I believe the new Election Commission will be formed according to his decisions. This is the honourable president’s responsibility.”

Though the president has the jurisdiction to form an Election Commission, the Constitution also allows the formation of a commission through the passing of a specific law. But such a law has not been passed in the past 50 years.

On the past two occasions, parties have discussed the issue with the president, a search committee has then been formed to recommend names that the president picks from to appoint a new Election Commission.

The same process has been followed this time, with the president engaging in talks with the parties. Six parties have spoken to the president so far. All of them have called for a new law on the formation of the EC.

The BNP has boycotted the discussions, calling the effort a ‘meaningless farce’ and stating that the main problem was that a partisan government would be in place at the time of the election.

The law minister, speaking at the annual meeting of the Crime Reporters Association at the Dhaka Reporters Unity, said that the president would get names for a search committee from the discussions with the various parties and that he would select from the names put forward by that search committee.

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“The people on the search committee will be a senior justice from the appellate division, a justice from the High Court, the chairman of the Public Service Commission and the auditor and comptroller general. They all hold constitutional posts. Two are members of civil society.”

“There are no members of any political parties. No one from the government. They will select 10 names and send them to the honourable president. Everyone has the right and the power to send a name. I do not believe there is any room for dispute regarding the EC’s formation.”

On Tuesday, the Workers Party urged the president to take the initiative to get the law passed in the upcoming session.

The law minister had previously said that he would be able to bring a law regarding the formation of the EC to parliament within the next two sessions.

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