Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda and US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat on Wednesday said they do not want the next parliamentary elections to be a lopsided one like the February-15 or January-5 election, according to the Election Commission (EC) Secretary.
“Both sides –the CEC and the US envoy— want a fair election unlike the February-12 (actually Feb 15, 1996) election or January-5 election (2014) so that no one boycotts the (11th national) election,” EC Secretary Muhammad Abdullah told reporters after a meeting between the US envoy and the CEC at the Nirbachon Bhaban in the city.
Quoting the US envoy, he said the US wants the next national election to be a participatory, violence-free and credible one, and America is ready to cooperate with the Election Commission in this regard.
After nearly the 90-minute meeting, Bernicat told reporters that they discussed the upcoming national election. “Of course, the topic was the upcoming election,” she said.
Noting that the US is one of the Bangladesh’s development partners, she said, “Election Commissioners need our help to ensure these elections are free, fair and credible.”
Quoting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the US diplomat said she wants the next election to avoid all questions.
To make the next election credible, Bernicat focused on the environment so that everyone can participate in voting and register candidature, and candidates can conduct campaign and every citizen those who will cast ballot would be confident that the ballot would be counted.
She said the CEC informed them that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will not be used in the election if any party refuses to keep trust on it.
Mentioning that Bangladesh had a history of great elections, Bernicat said the US has no intention to interfere in the election.
EC Secretary Abudllah said the US envoy raised the issue of January-5 election and told the CEC that the election cannot be called a participatory one when a big party does not join it.
She told the CEC that they want no repetition of the election which was largely boycotted.
He said Bernicat also expressed concern over irregularities and violence in the country’s recent elections, particularly in the January-5 national election.
In response, the CEC told her if the next election is inclusive, the problems will be minimised. “If the next election is participatory one, the polls will be fair and free,” Abdullah quoted the CEC as saying.
He said the US diplomat wanted to know the EC’s stance over the EVMs. “The CEC told them if any party opposes it, the machines won’t be used in the election.”