Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder on Monday boycotted a commission meeting about the progress of next general elections saying that he was not allowed to exercise his freedom of speech.
Talukder said that he felt embarrassed when the EC barred him from placing some of his proposals for free, fair, neutral, credible and participatory elections at the EC meeting presided by the chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda.
He said that in an unofficial note, on October 8, he suggested the EC secretariat to put his proposals in agendas for Monday’s meeting but the secretariat requested him to only place the proposals in the meeting informally.
‘I felt embarrassed after I was finally asked not to place the proposals when I joined the meeting. Then I gave a note of dissent and boycotted the meeting protesting at the incident,’ Talukder told reporters at his office.
In his note of dissent, Talukder said that EC should think about the deployment of army in next general elections reviewing army’s activities in the previous general elections.
He suggested the EC to hold a bilateral meeting with the political parties in order to ensure participatory elections, which he believed would stop electoral irregularities and develop democracy.
He also suggested the EC to seek government’s assistance for ensuring level-playing field by keeping the lawmakers inactive during the polls as holding a neutral election primarily hinged on a level-playing field.
In his note of dissent, Talukder said that the EC needed more authorities for holding elections as he observed that during the mayoral elections the EC failed to exercise enough control on the law-enforcing agencies.
He suggested for looking a way to ensure more control on the law-enforcing agencies during the polls.
He also advised the EC to hold a dialogue with the government as of some of the suggestions that came from the stakeholders during the previously hosted electoral dialogue required an effective role of the government for implementation.
He pointed out that the suggestions and proposals of the participants in the last year’s electoral dialogue hosted by EC were not discussed in any meeting.
Meanwhile, in separate interaction with the press, EC secretary Helaluddin Ahmed told reporters that the EC would hold another meeting next week to finalise the schedule for 11th parliamentary elections.
He said that the EC completed most of its works for holding the next general polls, adding that Monday’s meeting approved a proposal of around TK 700 crore as a budget for the next general elections.
The EC secretary said that the commission would ask the government to fill up the vacant posts of the EC in district and upazila levels as EC was facing a shortage of manpower.
Asked about Takukder’s walkout from the meeting, the EC secretary said that the commissioner was asked not to place the proposals in the meeting and he left the meeting 10 minutes after it started at 11:00 am.
Talukder boycotted another EC’s meeting on August 30 opposing a move to amend the Representation of the People Order to incorporate the use of the Electronic Voting Machines in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
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