The Election Commission on Monday rescheduled the 11th parliamentary elections for December 30 deferring the schedule it announced four days ago on November 8.
Chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda came up with the revised schedule a day after the Jatiya Oikya Front decided to join the polls and demanded deferral of the schedule by one month and AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Jukta Front demanded that the polls be rescheduled for December 30.
The ruling Awami League welcomed the deferral of the polls schedule terming its positive while the Jatiya Oikya Front stick to its demand for deferral of the schedule by a month.
The chief election commissioner made the disclosure while inaugurating Electronic Voting Machine Fair at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka, welcoming the decision of the Jatiya Oikya Front and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to join the polls.
The commission later on the day issued a circular signed by its secretary Helaluddin Ahmed on the rescheduling of the polls.
In the revised schedule, the commission deferred the polls to December 30 from December 23, the last date of filing nomination papers to November 28 from November 19, scrutiny of the nomination papers to December 2 from November 20 and the last date of withdrawal of the candidature to December 9 from November 22.
The commission on Monday also extended deferred to November 15 the deadline for informing it about the parties in alliances and sharing of electoral symbol as the deadline expired on Sunday, said commission officials.
Emerging from Jatiya Oikya Front steering committee meeting at its chief Dr Kamal Hossain’s chamber on Monday, front leader ASM Abdur Rob told reporters that the alliance still stick to their demand for deferment of the schedule by one month.
He said that foreign observers would be discouraged from monitoring the polls on December 30 as the New Year would be observed a day after the rescheduled polling.
He warned that the front would announce programme today if its demand was not addressed.
He also said that the government should talk to the front if it wanted a participatory election.
On Sunday, at a crowded press conference at the National Press Club, in presence of Dr Kamal Hossain, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced the front’s decision to join the polls terming it a part of their ongoing movement for ‘restoration of democracy’.
Later, Fakhrul, also the front’s spokesperson, in a letter urged the commission to defer the polls schedule by one month.
In a letter to the commission, ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on Sunday informed the commission that the party had no objection to the rescheduling of the polls.
Obaidul Quader at a press conference at AL chief’s political office at Dhanmondi on Monday said that his party considered the rescheduling of the election as positive.
He also said that the front had to participate in the election even if the schedule was not deferred.
On November 5, Jatiya Oikya Front leaders during a heated exchange urged commission not to announce the schedule until the outcome of ongoing dialogue between the prime minister and the front leaders was visible.
At Sunday’s press conference of Fakhrul said that most of their seven demands were rejected by the government during their dialogues with prime minister and ruling Awami League president Sheikh Hasina on November 1 and 7.
‘Unfortunately, we found no minimum compromising attitude of the government to overcome the present political crisis,’ he said.
‘We have not given up our seven-point demand, rather added new demand for deferment of the polls schedule,’ Fakhrul said adding that the government and the Election Commission must take the responsibility for the consequences for failure to hold a participatory election.
The front will monitor the activities of the government and the commission alongside its preparation for the election, he said.
Launched on October 13, the front continued pressing for its seven-point demand, including resignation of the government, formation of polls-time party-neutral government, dissolution of parliament, release of jailed BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia and other political prisoners and reconstitution of the EC for a free, fair and credible election.
The election to the 10th parliament, held on January 5, 2014, drew widespread criticism as all opposition political parties boycotted the polls and candidates in 153 of the 300 territorial constituencies were announced elected uncontested.
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