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US envoy tells CEC

No more Feb 15 or Jan 5 type polls

By Special Correspondent
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US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bloom Barnicat has laid emphasis on inclusive and participatory national polls scheduled to be held in 2019 for electing the members of the 11th parliament.
The US envoy made the statements during a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda at EC secretariat in the city's Agargaon on Wednesday. Two other officials of USID were also present there at that time.
The CEC and US ambassador have also agreed at this point that there should not be February 15 or January 5 type election in the country anymore. Their meeting continued for about one and a half hours.
"All party's participation is not only for the voting day, rather there must be an ideal atmosphere so that the candidates can take registration and run their campaign smoothly. The prevailing situation should earn general people's trust that their votes will be counted," Marcia Barnicat told the newsmen after attending the meeting.
Promising all sorts of cooperation in the polls, the US envoy also said, "Bangladesh has many records of holding good and less-good types of elections. Echoing the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's statement, I want to say that the next election must be held above all questions."  
EC Secretary Md Abdullah, who was also present at the meeting, said: "We both sides have agreed that there will not be any election such as February 15 and January 5. We will try to avoid such types of situation."
Expressing her grave concern, the US envoy during the meeting mentioned about witnessing some faults, hartal and incidents of violence in the previous elections.
In response, the CEC said these incidents would not take place again if all parties participate in the upcoming election.
The CEC also quoted as saying that there is an example in Bangladesh of holding an acceptable election on June 12 after the said controversial February 15 polls in 1996.
"It's a big challenge to bring all the parties in the electoral process. This type of situation has been created as the big parties did not take part in the elections," the CEC was quoted as saying.
The CEC earlier hold a meeting with Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla on May 18. He also sat in meetings with Swedish Ambassador in Dhaka Johan Frisell and Norwegian Ambassador Sidsel Bleken on March 12.
Meanwhile, the EC is taking preparations to hold dialogues with registered political parties -at least in two spells-to finalise its various important decisions, including the electronic voting machine (EVM) use in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
As per its roadmap, the EC will initiate its first phase of talks with the political parties in August next to have their opinions over the use of EVM or digital voting machine (DVM) in the polls.
Besides, the EC will also discuss reformation of electoral laws and delimitation of parliamentary constituencies.

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