Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal urged all parties to eschew violence amid fears of violent confrontation surrounding the next general election, of which the schedule he announced on Wednesday.
He emphasised dialogue to reach a consensus in his address to the nation broadcast live on TV and radio in the evening amid the opposition BNP’s blockade designed to mount pressure on the Sheikh Hasina government to resign, a demand dismissed by the ruling Awami League.
As the BNP has threatened a boycott if a caretaker administration is not installed, the CEC said that the Election Commission always encourages every party to freely participate and compete in the polls.
In his speech, the CEC mentioned their unsuccessful attempts to engage certain political parties, such as the BNP, in discussions.
"We repeatedly invited all registered, uninterested political parties, but they refused to join," he said.
Some political parties suggested postponing the announcement of the election schedule before political issues are settled.
But the CEC said it is obligated to proceed with the elections at the set time, even if some parties opt to stay out.
He said ideological differences are common in multi-party politics, but if they lead to conflicts and violence, it can harm the voting process.
"I ask all political parties to stay away from conflict and violence and to find a solution through kindness," he said.
He said tolerance, mutual trust, and solidarity are crucial for a lasting and stable democracy.
Awal urged voters to stand up to any interference or obstacles they face while voting.
Encouraging a positive voting environment, Awal said, "I urge everyone to set aside fears and anxieties and come to vote in a happy mood, freely exercising their voting rights."