The BNP has finally decided not to join President Md Abdul Hamid’s talks over the formation of a new Election Commission. The party last week had said it would think about attending the dialogue after getting a formal invitation. But Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced their final decision on Wednesday, terming the talks “a meaningless” exercise.
He said the party took the decision in a National Standing Committee meeting, presided over by Acting Chairperson Tarique Rahman, on Monday before getting the invitation.
The BNP had participated in the last parliamentary polls and the talks to form the EC before the elections after the boycott of the 2014 polls held with the Awami League government in power.
This time the opposition party has been saying it will not join the talks or elections even unless its demand for a non-partisan, election-time caretaker government is not met.
Fakhrul had hinted at a change of heart last week, saying they would take the final decision about joining the talks after getting the invitation.
“The BNP thinks a dialogue on the formation of the Election Commission is a waste of time without constitutional assurances for a neutral government and administration during elections in the current political climate of Bangladesh,” Fakhrul said in a statement on Wednesday.
He claimed the Election Commission will never be able to independently deliver free and fair elections if a political party remains in power during the polls.
“The president himself said he does not have the power to bring changes. So, the president’s talks with the political parties will not yield positive results. The BNP will not take part in a meaningless dialogue.”
The statement also said it had submitted specific proposals to the president before the previous talks, but every effort failed because the Awami League was in power during the polls.
The “utter failure” of the Election Commission formed after those talks “destroyed the electoral system of the country” while the Awami League “blocked all the ways for democracy to flourish by repealing the caretaker government system”, it added.
Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal, or BaSad, led by Khalequzzaman, had earlier announced the boycott of the president’s talks.
The current Election Commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda, will run its term on Feb 14, 2022. The president has opened talks with registered political parties to discuss their views on the formation of a new Election Commission.
In the absence of a law to appoint election commissioners, the power to appoint an election commissioner is vested in the president, in line with the Constitution.
Late president Zillur Rahman had formed the previous Election Commission by selecting a committee to shortlist names of possible candidates for the posts of the election commissioners and their chief.
Hamid had followed suit the next time to appoint CEC Huda and the commissioners from the names recommended by the search committee.