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CEC is irrelevant for assuring free election unless parliament is dissolved

05 July 2022 MAINUL HOSEIN
CEC is irrelevant for assuring free election unless parliament is dissolved

It is difficult to believe that the Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal has no idea or knowledge about the conditions that will allow him to be in charge of the coming election unless he insists on dissolution of the parliament. With any honesty he could not give assurance to the foreign heads of mission on Sunday that the election will be free and fair. Whether or not it will be inclusive that is not his business to say. That is for the government to arrange through horse trading of greedy politicians as in the past. His responsibility is to hold election where people's vote will count for the election victory.

A few days ago, Peter Haas, the US ambassador to Bangladesh who was also present at the Sunday's meeting with the CEC, had rather strongly said that the next polls must be of international standard. Also present at the meeting with CEC were British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson, European Union (EU) Ambassador to Bangladesh Charles Whiteley and Swiss Ambassador to Bangladesh Nathalie Chuard who voiced support for acceptable polls.

It should be known to the Chief Election Commissioner that nowhere under parliamentary system the election of the parliament takes place without dissolving the parliament and declaring the seats vacant.

It is unfortunate that in spite of the past experience of robbery of the last two general elections with the active collaboration of the corrupt administration, the present Chief Election Commissioner does not see where the impediment lies in holding free election. In the last election the police were openly used for terrorising the people. Then who supplied the courage and strength to the government for daring to such crime against the people? The Election Commissions proved they were part of the conspiracy apart from others.

 Not only the parliamentary election, the whole election system has been rendered a buying and selling cash affair.

The Constitution was amended to get rid of the consensus based election time non-party caretaker government so that the sitting government can remain fully in power with his full cabinet along with the members of the parliament active in full force in every constituency.

The Election Commission has to rely on the cooperation of the government officials and such cooperation is impossible when the party government is in full command of the election process. The backboneless Election Commission rubber-stamped the fake election results breaking faith with the people. The ill-motive of not giving up power is evident from the conspiratorial way the Constitution was changed.

The government finding themselves unable to depend on public vote, has found corruption as the easiest way to purchase the establishment bigwigs for securing election-less election victory.

The present Chief Election Commissioner has revealed his ignorance about conditions necessary to hold free election. It is not a matter of his personal wish. Under parliamentary systems nowhere in the world, including Great Britain and Australia, general election takes place without dissolving the parliament. It is absurd to think of holding election unless seats have not become vacant.

Just because the Constitution was unilaterally manipulated to the advantage of the sitting government but such an absurdity cannot be accepted by the Election Commission for holding free election for the people's vote. In all honesty Chief Election Commissioner should ask the government to dissolve the parliament to create conditions for free election.

To deprive the people of vote and to make them suffer under an unelected government, the nation does not need the bluff of another Election Commission.

When a fraudulent and partisan change in the Constitution to make free election impossible Chief Election Commissioner should not have been prompted to reassure the foreign diplomats and others about free election knowingly that the pre-condition for free election is absent and the Election Commission will not be in charge of the election.

In the backdrop of past elections and authoritarianism of the government, we shall urge the Election Commission to faithfully express its inability to hold free election and insist on ending the parliament before election like in other countries. The Commission members as well as its Chief are sufficiently knowledgeable not to play foul with the election and betray the people from having a government of their own.

The people have lost faith in election. If the present Election Commission cannot create conditions for a free election let it at least refrain from bragging about its ability to organise free and fair election. Besides, the strongest argument in favour of dissolving the parliament is that the parliament's election should be held as it is held under parliamentary system everywhere.

The parliament must be dissolved for the Election Commission to convince anybody about free election.

Change is bound to happen but it is the desire of all sensible persons that it should come peacefully. We do not want it to be said that we are so slavish that we do not have the courage to do what is right and honourable for a free people.

It is no hope that the foreign missions or diplomats wish to see free election in Bangladesh though the foreign countries can help the helpless people in establishing objective conditions for free election if they seriously mean what they say.

All the institutions of democracy have been damaged and corrupted. The free world must support in words and deeds the need of free election as the foundation of democratic good governance. They can save the country from the catastrophe of wholesale corruption.

Our people have struggled all along for democracy but our curse is our educated few who are easily purchasable.

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