Poll schedule Nov 8 amid deferment call

Shawkat Ali Khan and ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman

5 November, 2018 12:00 AM printer

The Election Commission is going to  announce the schedule for the next parliamentary polls on Thursday amid the opposition alliance’s demand for delaying the schedule announcement until the ongoing dialogue between the ruling combine and opposition parties ends.

“Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda will announce the schedule in a televised address to the nation on November 8,” Election Commissioner Shahadat Hossain told reporters after a meeting of the EC at its secretariat.

The election will be held within 45 days of the announcement of the election schedule, he said.

The commissioner had earlier said it will make public the schedule on November 4 but in Sunday’s meeting it decided to announce the schedule on November 8.

The decision came amid the much-talked-about talks between the ruling Awami League-led alliance and opposition parties.

National Oikya Front, a combine of opposition parties including BNP, sent a letter to the Awami League president and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday requesting deferment of the polls schedule announcement.

As per constitutional provision, the next parliamentary election should be held between October 31, 2018 and January 28, 2019.

Article 123 (3) (a) of the constitution provides that a national election shall be held within 90 days before the dissolution of the previous parliament.

The 10th parliament sat on January 29 in 2014 after the January 5 general election.

Opposition parties have been asking the government to dissolve parliament, form an interim administration, not to use electronic voting machine, and deploy military with magistracy power for a free and fair election.

But the ruling side is hell-bent on holding the polls in line with the constitutional provisions.

Amid disagreement between the two sides, Awami League agreed to hold talks with opposition parties to reach a consensus on issues relating to the next national election likely to be held in December this year.

The dialogue began on November 1 through talks with Jatiya Oikya Front but ended without agreement on most of the issues discussed.

After the talks, BNP said they are not happy with the outcome while Okiya Front top leader Dr Kamal Hossain said they did not get ‘specific solution’.

Oikya Front also announced that they will wage movement against the government to realise their 7-point charter of demands, including the release of Khaleda Zia and dissolution of parliament, for a credible election.

At the Nov 1 meeting, leaders of both Awami League and Oikya Front agreed to continue the talks to reach a consensus on important issues. Oikya Front on Saturday sent a letter to the Election Commission requesting the constitutional body not to declare the scheduled before the end of the talks.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday raised question over the motive of Jatiya Oikya Front’s announcement for continuing movement despite talks with the ruling side.

“They announced action programmes when dialogue is on. They’ve joined talks and at the same time announced movement. What kind of talks is it?” she said.

The issue appears to have turned critical as Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on the day said his party would not sit for talks with political parties after November 7 due to time constraint.

“No discussion will be held after November 7. It is impossible to continue the talks for a long time as the election schedule will be announced soon,” he said.

Jatiya Oikya Front meantime sent another letter to the Awami League president on Sunday seeking time for further talks. But the ruling party is yet to respond to the letter.

Jukta Front, another political alliance, led by Bikalpadhara Bangladesh president AQM Badrudozza Chowdhury, reached a consensus with the ruling side on several issues during its talks on November 2.

The alliance agreed to participate in the next polls under the constitutional provision.