Amendment to Party Registration Law

EC move irks BNP

Mohammad Al Amin

11 September, 2020 12:00 AM printer

BNP is worried over the Election Commission move to amend the law on the registration of political parties in the country.

“Our party (BNP) has already sent a letter to the Election Commission giving our opinions about the amendment. We will opine further after observing what the EC does in this regard,” BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain told daily sun.

BNP sources said the EC recently sent the letter to the party seeking opinion over its move to bring some changes to the Representation of the People Order (RPO), 1972.

The proposed amendment would require any political party to have an active central office, active district committees and secure 200 votes in 100 upazilas or metropolitan thana levels to qualify for registration.

Under the Representation of the People Order (RPO) 1972, a political party would have been eligible for registration if it could fulfill one of three conditions. Two of these clauses, which EC is planning to remove, involve having at least one member of the party who won a national election once after independence or a party candidate who bagged at least 5 percent of votes cast in a national election.

The RPO was last amended in 2008 ahead of the ninth general elections, introducing a registration system for political parties.

The three registration clauses have been applicable throughout the past decade but the parties had only been able to fulfill one of them. The EC believes the first two registration clauses are no longer necessary.

In his reaction, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said, “The Election Commission in its letter to us mentioned that it would only translate the RPO into Bengalee from English but actually they made many changes to some of the contents,”

He said none requested the EC to do so while the reasons mentioned by the commission for bringing the changes are ‘unacceptable’.

Nazrul termed the EC move motivated and in some cases out of its jurisdiction.

The EC prepared the draft of “Registration of Political Parties Act 2020”, repealing the chapter VIA of the Representation of the People Order-1972.  

BNP standing committee members held a virtual meeting on September 5 through video conference with its acting chairman Tarique Rahman in the chair and discussed the political parties’ registration law by the commission.

“The meeting expressed view that the current Election Commission wants to handover the election system to the government and pave the way for one-party ruling through formulating unnecessary laws,” said a statement of the BNP policymaking body.

Condemning the move, BNP standing committee members also termed it ‘evil-effort’ and urged the commission to restrain from it.

The party also thinks that if the changes in RPO and other laws come in effect, their politics may be difficult down the road as the opposition party can’t fulfill all the conditions in time, added the sources.

The EC has been the subject of criticism over the amendment to the electoral law. Some parties have opposed any amendment to the law while one of the election commissioners has issued a note of dissent twice already.

In its proposed revised RPO, the provisions that empower the EC to cancel the candidature of candidates and announce election schedule were absent but finally it backtracked from the move recently, EC sources said.

On August 31, the commission approved the draft of the Local Government Election Conducting Act 2020 without any provision for changing the names while it earlier proposed to change traditional names of local government bodies and the associated positions.

Meanwhile, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday said the Election Commission’s move to change election laws is not acceptable at all.

“This election commission couldn’t hold any fair election yet. In this situation, they are making evil effort to weaken the devastated election process in the name of amendment to the election law,” he said.

The BNP leader came up with the statement while addressing a press conference at the party chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office in the capital.

About the EC’s proposals to make political parties’ registration act 2020, bring change in RPO and make local government election act 2020, he said, “This initiative is abnormal, undesired and unacceptable. We think that it‘s an evil tactic to implement motive of a particular group. Different political parties, including BNP, rejected this initiative of the commission.”

About the move to amend RPO (Representation of the People Order), Mirza Fakhrul said if the EC’s power like power of canceling the candidacy is curtailed, then the commission will turn into ‘powerless’.

“This election commission is not trustworthy. There is doubt that in what tactics the commission is actually involved. Their past activities reveal that they are involved in implementing blueprint of the government,” he added.