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Legal steps over local body polls likely

By bdnews24.com
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Smaller political parties, not recognised by the Election Commission but keen to contest polls for local bodies, may take recourse to legal action.
That will create complications for elections to municipalities and Union Parishads under new laws that allow political parties to field candidates. So far, smaller parties could like others field their candidates to local bodies as the polls were non-partisan.But after the amendments, only the 40 parties registered with the Election Commission would be able to field candidates. Those who are not registered but are active in some municipalities are upset at the possibility of being denied the right to contest.
And it seems some of them are planning to move courts. Meanwhile, the EC will have to amend its regulations before it can announce the schedule for municipalities polls due in November.
Due to paucity of time, an ordinance will be issued for amending the municipality poll law, which will be later passed in Parliament. The amendments for laws regarding polls for Union and Upazila councils and city corporations will be placed in parliament for passage in due course.
The new amendments will allow political parties field candidates for the local bodies' elections with their poll symbols.
So far, an eligible individual could contest the polls for local bodies, but after the amendments they would have to fulfil the criteria set by the EC as an independent candidate. The EC says it will not register any new political parties before the municipality polls in November, which means only the 40 registered parties will be able to field candidates.
"There's only one and a half month left for the municipalities polls. We are not considering registration for any new party now," Election Commissioner Md Shahnewaz told bdnews24.com. Bangladesh National Democratic Party (BNDP) has recently applied for the EC's registration.
Its chief Sheikh Mostafizur Rahman says they will move the court if they are not allowed to field candidates in the municipality polls. "We hope to field candidates for polls in at least 20 municipalities."
Leaders of some other parties- not registered but intending to field candidates-also supported Rahman.
Meanwhile, the EC wants an ordinance regarding amendments of municipality law within next week, so it can start working on amending its regulations.
Election Commissioner Shahnewaz says parties cleared for taking part in national polls will be allowed to field candidates for local body polls under the amended law. "But we need to get the amended law to change our regulations accordingly." An individual has to be a member of a party for at least three years before he can be nominated to run for national polls. The central committees of the parties nominate candidates for parliament polls, but it's not clear who will nominate candidates for these elections-local committees or central committees.
Ministers and the MPs are barred from campaigning in local body polls. The EC is not clear what happens now.
EC Secretary Md Sirajul Islam say they are considering to hold the local body polls, the way national parliament elections are  held.
"We will scrutinise every details stipulated in the RPO (Representation of the Peoples Ordinance). As soon as the amendments of the laws are available, we will change the regulations," he said.

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