No polls date shifting, no campaign by MPs – Election Commision

No polls date shifting, no campaign by MPs – Election Commision

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The Election Commission has rejected the demand of ruling Awami League and the Opposition in Parliament Jatiya Party to give their MPs scope to campaign for municipal polls candidates. The EC has also said ‘No’ to BNP’s demand to shift the date of polls by 15 days.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad has made it clear that it is not possible for the EC to amend the election code of conduct or delay the voting date.The three parties made the demands and some additional proposals to the EC on Sunday.
The CEC and the four election commissioners discussed the demands and proposals on Monday.
Ahmad told reporters in the evening that the EC had decided not to amend rules after announcing the schedule.
About the BNP’s demand to defer the polls, the CEC said the schedule was announced “keeping very little time at hand” after the amendment of the rules.
“It is not possible to defer it now,” he said.
The polls to 236 municipalities are scheduled for Dec 30.
“It would have been possible to defer the polls if the date had been set for Dec 20. By making it Dec 30 at the last moment, we have actually kept enough time,” Ahmad said.
“We have checked if we could defer the polls even by a day. There is no scope for that,” he added.
Several other parties other than the three major ones have also brought forward proposals over supporters and movers.
The EC has rejected their proposals as well after the discussion.
The municipal polls will be held on party lines for the first time. The mayor candidates will be able to contest with a nomination from a political party using its symbol.
The last date to submit nomination papers is Dec 3.
The aspirants will be able to withdraw their nominations until Dec 13. The EC will check the papers on Dec 5 and 6.
Amendments ‘shelved’
CEC Ahmad said the commission would consider the proposals of the parties under the existing rules.
In line with the code of conduct, party chiefs will be able to take part in campaigns. The laws even allow the use of a helicopter by a party chief.
But the municipal polls rules stipulate a ban on campaigning by the prime minister, leader of the opposition in Parliament, deputy leader of Parliament, ministers and people with a rank equivalent to a minister’s, MPs and city corporation mayors.
For this reason, Awami League chief Prime Minister Hasina and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Raushon Ershad may be barred from taking part in the municipal polls campaign.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia, out of Parliament now after boycotting the last general elections, will be out of the ban.
The CEC, however, thinks his commission made no mistake in this regard.
“It’s not a mistake. It’s a thing we are weighing. This is not the last [election]. We’ll gather experience through this,” he said.
“There are more elections ahead. We will correct possible errors during those elections,” he added.

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