EC capable enough to hold fair polls
Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud yesterday said Bangladesh needs no assistance from the United Nations (UN) to arrange elections since the country's Election Commission (EC) is capable enough to hold fair and transparent polls.
"The Election Commission of Bangladesh is very strong, and I don't think it needs anyone's help to hold elections," he said.
The minister came up with the remarks at a programme of Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum (BSRF) as journalists sought his reaction to UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo's comment on the UN's assistance for holding elections in Bangladesh.
Stating that the EC has already conducted many elections in Bangladesh in a very fair and transparent manner, the minister said Bangladesh is not Somalia or Ethiopia that it needs the UN's help to hold elections.
He, however, said it is completely a different issue if anyone wants to observe elections in Bangladesh. "But the Election Commission does not need any assistance to conduct elections."
On Sunday, Mia Seppo said the UN will provide electoral assistance to Bangladesh only if there is any request on that particular front.
Responding to questions at "DCAB Talk" at the Foreign Service Academy, she also said, "The UN
doesn't provide electoral assistance unless we're asked to."
He also said the next election will be held according to the constitution, which does not provide for any caretaker government.
KHALEDA'S JAIL SUSPENTION
On six-month suspension of Khaleda Zia's jail sentence under an official order, the minister said BNP should remain thankful to the government.
"If that order is revoked tomorrow, Khaleda Zia will have to return to jail immediately. I think BNP needs to keep this in mind as well," said the minister.
Asked about BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir's comment that the government is afraid of freeing Khaleda, the minister said BNP should rather thank the government for suspending her sentence for another six months.
He said the BNP chairperson was not released on bail or freed by any order of the court. "Khaleda Zia is out of prison because the prime minister suspended her sentence by exercising power given by the law," he said.
The minister also brushed aside another BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain's recent call to people to take to the streets demanding that the next national election is held under a neutral caretaker government.
He said BNP's demand for a caretaker government has no constitutional basis and so it will fail to get any response from the people like it happened in the past 12 and a half years.
Later, the minister unveiled the cover of BSRF's magazine "BSRF Barta", at the meeting room of the information ministry at the Secretariat.
BSRF president Tapan Biswas and general secretary Masudul Haque were, among others, present at the programme.
Meanwhile, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday also said the next general election will be held in line with the constitutional provisions.
"The next national election will be held, as per the constitution, in a neutral and peaceful atmosphere," he told a press conference on temporary issues at his official residence here.