New Election Commission 'frustrating, reflects PM's wishes', says BNP
Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-02-08 00:16:35.0 BdST Updated: 2017-02-08 03:17:17.0 BdST
The BNP has expressed 'frustration' in its official reaction to the formation of the new Election Commission, which will oversee the next parliamentary polls by early 2019.
It says the appointments to the new EC 'reflect Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's wishes'.
Its official reaction came on Tuesday, a day after President Md Abdul Hamid named former secretary KM Nurul Huda as the chief election commissioner and four others as election commissioners.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir briefed the media after a meeting of the BNP-led 20-Party Alliance chaired by party Chairperson Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan offices in the night.
Speaking about the new CEC, Mirza Fakhrul said, "We think an organisation formed with a debatable former government official as the head will not be able to perform its duty without fascination."
"That's why free, fair, impartial and acceptable elections will not be possible under this CEC," he added.
Nurul Huda, who fought the Liberation War under Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JaSoD) founding president major Abdul Jalil, was retained as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for a long time during the BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami tenure.
Mirza Fakhrul said Huda, an official of the then government's disfavour, did not perform his duty in office as a secretary.
In his words, Nurul Huda retired as a joint secretary.
"He became additional secretary and secretary only on papers. Actually he did not perform duty as an additional secretary or a secretary for a single day," he said.
"So he does not have the practical experience of doing the duties of these posts. This appointment of a CEC who is not experienced as a secretary is unprecedented. It could not happen without political preference," he added.
Nurul Huda, who retired in 2006, was sent on forced retirement with some other officials after the BNP-Jamaat coalition came to power in 2001.
The Supreme Court declared the order illegal later. Nurul Huda became secretary with retrospective effect after getting promotion and achieved financial facilities for the post.
The BNP now fears that the matter may influence Nurul Huda's performance as CEC.
"He may have anger towards our party. He may as well have grown affections towards the Awami League after getting retrospective promotion," Mirza Fakhrul said.
"The people have reasonable doubts how much impartiality he will maintain amidst this dilemma.
"The crisis of trust in an EC in the beginning of its journey may create big problems in the future," he added.
In 1996, as the deputy commissioner of Comilla, Huda acted as an organiser for the Janatar Mancha, Mirza Fakhrul alleged. "Such behaviour on the part of a public servant is in violation with the terms of employment and is a punishable offence," he said.
He also raised questions on Huda's association as managing director with Bangladesh Municipal Development Fund after retiring from government service.
"In our 10-point proposal, we had said that no appointment to the EC be given from those who occupied offices of profit following their retirement from government service... Unfortunately it is exactly what has happened."
Asked for his views on the other commissioners, he said that the picture on them would gradually clear up before the people. "If the CEC is accused of such things, then what will be the condition of the EC is anybody's guess" he added.
He accepted that the BNP had suggested the name of new Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder.
The president had conducted discussions with political parties including the BNP before forming the search committee.
The search committee sought names from political parties for appointment to the EC.
On that basis the committee suggested 10 names to the president from which he shortlisted the final five on Monday.
The 12th EC has former secretary Rofiqul
Islam, former additional secretary Mahbub Talukder, retired judge Kabita Khanam,
and retired brigadier general Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury as election
The BNP has objections to the process of the appointment as well.
Alleging that the 'hurry and concealment of information' in the process of forming the new EC aroused questions, Mirza Fakhrul said, "We are frustrated and disappointed."
"Every quarter demanded publishing of the 10 names recommended by the search committee and necessary details about their work. The process might have been transparent to some extent if it was done. But it did not happen," he said.
"Taking decision hurriedly at the ending moments has created many doubts," he added.
According to him, one of the 'biggest doubts' is that the ruling Awami League had 'earlier chosen' the persons who would be kept in the new EC.
"The president can accept suggestions from the prime minister on all issues but two in line with the Constitution. So we can reasonably think that the prime minister's wishes have been reflected in the forming of the new EC," Mirza Fakhrul said.
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