Senior BNP leaders at a meeting with foreign diplomats on Wednesday aired the party’s apprehension that there will be widespread vote fraud, manipulation and muscle flexing ‘by the ruling party’ during the December-30 municipal polls.
The party leaders also told the envoys that Awami League is planning to hold lopsided elections to 235 municipalities with the help of the Election Commission and the administration as it did in the last three city corporation polls, UNB reports.
Party standing committee member Abdul Moyeen Khan led the BNP delegation at the hour-long meeting that began around 11:00am at BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office.
Diplomats from Australia, Singapore, India, the UK, the USA, Sweden, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Nepal, Japan, the EU and the UN took part in the meeting.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Moyeen Khan said the agenda of the meeting was the municipality polls and the country’s democratic and overall situation.
“Now there’s no democratic freedom in the country as opposition political parties can’t carry out any political activity. You’ve seen seven mayors and over 150 councillors have already been elected unopposed as opposition parties were not allowed to file nominations in those municipalities,” he alleged.
Criticising the EC for its inaction against violation of the election code of conduct by the ruling party men, including MPs and ministers, the former minister said an MP flew to his area in a helicopter and accompanied his party’s mayoral candidates during the submission of his nomination.
“It’s been possible as a one-party democracy is now persisting in Bangladesh. Opposition candidates can’t carry out electioneering. Even they are being arrested at whim,” the BNP leader said.
He claimed over 1,000 BNP leaders and activists were arrested in the last two weeks.
Moyeen Khan alleged that there has been no level-playing field as the opposition men cannot stay there in the election field due to intimidation and obstruction by ruling party men.
He called upon the government to hold a credible election through creating a congenial atmosphere so that voters can go to polling stations without any fear and obstruction.
Asked what they discussed with the diplomats, the BNP leader declined to elaborate it.
The other members of the BNP team include, party chairperson’s advisers Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, Reaz Rahman, Inam Ahmed, Sabihuddin Ahmed, party international affairs secretary Asaduzzaman Ripon, Jubo Dal president Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal and executive committee member Jeba Ahmed Khan.
A leader who was present at the meeting wishing anonymity said they briefed reporters about the violation of election code of conduct by ruling party men, the subservient role of the Election Commission, the partisan role of the administration, arrest and harassment of opposition leaders, torture and attacks on them and obstruction to BNP candidates and their supporters from conducting election campaign.
He said they also provided the envoys with some documents, including CDs and paper cuttings, in support of their allegations.