Talks over Election Commission: JP names 1 for EC, 4 for search panel

During a dialogue with President Abdul Hamid yesterday, the Jatiya Party proposed the enactment of a law, as prescribed in the constitution, to form the Election Commission.

The opposition party also proposed enacting another law in line with the constitution that carries the provision for penalizing any executive authorities who violate their duties to assist the Election Commission (EC) in the discharge of its functions.

In the three-point recommendation, they further proposed that the president promulgate ordinances regarding the issues if it is not possible to enact such laws in parliament before February 14 next year, when the term of the current EC is led by Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda expires.

As per the constitution, the new EC has to be formed before the term of the current EC ends.

A JP leader, wishing anonymity, said the party had placed four names to the president as nominations for the search committee, which is expected to recommend names to the president for the formation of the EC.

Additionally, JP also nominated Roksana Kader, a retired additional secretary, and wife of JP Secretary General Mujibul Haque Chunnu, as an election commissioner in case the new EC is formed without search committee recommendations, added the leader.

The JP placed the recommendations to Hamid on the first day of dialogues, initiated by the president, with political parties over the formation of the new EC.

As in 2012 and 2016, the president is expected to form a search committee from the nominations of different political parties. The search committee, after discussions with political parties, will then provide the president with a shortlist of candidates, from which the president will form the new EC.

The next EC will oversee the 12th national election to be held between November 2023 and January 2024.

If it is not possible to enact laws and issue ordinances in that time, JP proposed that the next EC be formed through a search committee acceptable to all, party leaders said.

For the search committee, the party proposed names of an Appellate Division judge, a High Court judge, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of Bangladesh Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, and Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Sohrab Hossain, said the JP insider.

JP Chairman GM Quader declined to comment on the nomination of Roksana’s name.

“The president in reply assured that he would consider the proposal and send it to relevant authorities,” GM Quader, JP chairman and deputy leader of the opposition, told reporters emerging from the dialogue held at the Bangabhaban.

Chunnu said the president assured them that he will form a search committee comprising persons acceptable to all.

Hamid also hoped that the formation of an acceptable EC would be possible through the opinions and advice of political parties.

“The president said the new election commission will be able to hold all elections in a free and fair manner and neutrally. He also sought cooperation from all political parties and civil society regarding the matter,” said a Bangabhaban statement.

The eight-member JP delegation, led by GM Quader, engaged with the president for about an hour and a half from 4:00 pm.

The other members of the delegation were JP MPs Anisul Islam Mahmud, Kazi Firoz Rashid, Moshiur Rahman Ranga, Syed Abu Hossain Babla, Salma Islam, and Ruhul Amin Hawlader.

The party said according to Article 118 of the constitution, there should be a law to appoint the chief election commissioner and election commissioners, but no law has been enacted to date.

“We think a law should be enacted in line with constitutions before appointing the upcoming EC,” said JP’s written proposal, a copy of which was obtained by the press.

The party said as per Article 126 of the constitution, it shall be the duty of all executive authorities to assist the EC in discharging its functions.

“There is no detailed description of how this article will be effective and for that, a law is needed,” said the proposal.

Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, who was a justice of the Appellate Division, led the Hamid-formed search committee in 2017 to recommend names for the EC. Then PSC chairman and CAG were also members of the search committee.

The president will next hold a dialogue with Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Inu) tomorrow.

The BNP is yet to say whether it would join the dialogue.

A senior BNP leader, wishing anonymity, said their party might not join as they think the new EC will be formed “as per the ruling party’s wishes”.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said the president’s dialogue over the formation of the new EC was “important but not enough”.

“EC was formed through a search committee following dialogue previously but it has not yielded the desired positive results. Therefore, a law is immediately needed to appoint a non-partisan, honest, and acceptable EC,” Iftekharuzzaman said in a statement.