Senior cabinet members on Monday opposed the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s demand for army deployment during the national polls.
During an informal discussion in the weekly cabinet at the secretariat, they said the army could only be kept as a striking force on emergency in aid of civil administration if the Election Commission wanted.
Chairing the meeting, prime minister Sheikh Hasina, however, asked her colleagues to remain positive about the EC’s action plan for the next polls to be held between October 30, 2018 and January 28, 2019 without making stray comments over it.
Several ministers including Tofail Ahmed, Amir Hossain Amu and Rashed Khan Menon picked up the issue for discussion as road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader, also ruling Awami League general secretary, showed the PM a EC letter seeking name of the focal person of a party for dialogue over the next polls, a minister told New Age.
The AL-led government, they said, would not accept deployment of army as a law enforcement agency as the Representation of People Order allows deployment of army as a striking force, the minister said.
The Election Commission on Sunday unveiled the action plan for the next general elections with the ruling Awami League welcoming it and the BNP saying it would not solve the political crisis without the outline of poll-time government.
As per the action plan, the commission will start dialogue with political parties and other stakeholders from July 31.
In its proposal for the EC reconstitution, made public in November 2016, the BNP pressed for redefining ‘Defence Services of Bangladesh’ as a law enforcement agency in the RPO.
It also demanded deployment of ‘Defense Forces’ with magisterial power, especially at the polling centers and other strategic places, seven days ahead of election day till gazette notification of the election results.
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