The Election Commission is hoping all political parties will set aside their differences to take part in the next general election as Western diplomats based in Dhaka are calling for their participation.
Members of the European Union Delegation and envoys of EU countries in Dhaka met the EC officials on Wednesday for an update on the preparations for the 12th parliamentary elections.
Besides participation of all the parties, they discussed the use of electronic voting machines or EVMs in the election.
This was the second meeting between the EC and the EU envoys in six months with the election a year away.
As the BNP appears to be adamant not to contest in any election with the Sheikh Hasina administration in power, the ruling Awami League has said it does not matter if a political party boycotts the polls.
“We’re hoping that the discontent will soon go away and all parties will come to the election in the end. We told them [EU] that the election will be very competitive if participation can be ensured. We’re fully prepared for that,” Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal said after the meeting.
But the EC can do nothing to catalyse parties to set aside their differences, he admitted.
“The political leaders themselves have to settle the political issues which might pose a threat to the election. The parties need to understand that. Only then will the election be inclusive.”
Awal also claimed that the distrust of parties in EVMs is “gone” but the availability of sufficient devices remained a doubt. “We’re yet to come to a decision about how much of the election can be held through EVMs.”
Asked about the coverage of the election, the CEC said: “The media and observers will work as they did before. We have a policy about foreign observers. They’d have to apply to us first. We’ll send the applications to the home and foreign ministries.”
He sought the support of foreign partners to hold a free and fair election.
“I’ve heard the prime minister [Sheikh Hasina] will allow foreign observers. She said so when a delegation of British MPs met her.”
Charles Whiteley, head of the EU Delegation, showed interest in sending an observer.