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Wants to earn trust of all

CEC pledges neutrality, working without being influenced

The Election Commission will discharge its duties neutrally without being influenced by any quarter, including the government, and work to gain the confidence of all political parties, newly appointed Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda said yesterday.

“We will be firm and uncompromising in discharging duties on the basis of the constitution and the laws and rules outlined in it,” he told reporters at his first official press conference at the EC secretariat after the swearing-in ceremony yesterday.

Earlier, Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha administered the oath of the new CEC and the four election commissioners at the Supreme Court Judges’ Lounge around 3:00pm.

Replying to a question, Nurul Huda said there was no scope for the government to exert its influence. “We will perform our constitutional duties impartially. We will not be influenced by anyone.”

Asked about the main challenges, the CEC said, “Our main challenge is to hold fair elections. We will plan and work in that regard.”

He said, “We will work to gain the confidence of all the political parties, including the BNP and the Awami League.” He hoped that he would be able to do so.

Huda also warned of taking stern actions against those who would be biased during elections.

When his attention was drawn to the BNP’s allegation that he was loyal to Awami League, the CEC said, “As I’ve taken the oath, I’ve no connection with any political party from now on. I have taken the oath to work neutrally and I will do so.”

He also refuted the allegation of being an organiser of “Janatar Mancha”, a platform which was against the then BNP government in 1996. “It is not true.”

Huda sought cooperation of the government, political parties, civil society members and the media in discharging the duties.

He said the experience and knowledge of the EC gathered over the years as well as the skill of the EC secretariat officials would help him accomplish his duties.

In reply to a question whether they would hold dialogues with political parties and civil society members seeking their suggestions over electoral issues, the CEC said they would make the decision later.

Four election commissioners — Mahbub Talukder, Md Rafiqul Islam, Begum Kabita Khanam and Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury — were present at the press conference.

President Abdul Hamid on February 6 appointed the new CEC and four election commissioners for the next five years. The new EC will oversee the 2019 national election.

E-VOTING IN NEXT POLLS: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday in parliament said the plan to introduce electronic voting system could be taken into consideration in the next parliamentary polls to ensure people’s voting rights and to hold a free, fair and impartial election, keeping consistency with all existing rules.

She also congratulated the new CEC and four commissioners and expressed her belief that they would be able to gain people’s confidence through carrying out their responsibilities impartially and staying loyal to the constitution.

In a scripted answer, she said her government was determined to provide all kinds of assistance to the EC.

Hasina also suggested formulation of an appropriate law on the appointment of the CEC and other commissioners in future in the light of the directives of the country’s constitution.

Source: Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh

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