Consensus needed for new EC


President Mohammed Abdul Hamid has been holding talks with registered political parties over reconstitution of the election commission. He started the dialogue on 18 December, meeting with the BNP representatives, and the process is nearing completion. On Thursday he had held talks with the ruling Awami League.

The views of the AL, the BNP and the other political parties concerning the reconstitution of the EC have been already made known. The Awami League president said that her party will accept whatever the president thinks best. the BNP suggested that the president form a search committee and that committee will appoint the election commissioners. Sources in the BNP say they even submitted a list to the president, of five names for inclusion in the search committee.

It seems that all parties are agreeable to a search committee. At least, no party has demurred. But there is a point which the BNP differs from the AL and the other parties. The Awami League has said that, in keeping with the constitution, a law can be drawn up regarding the formation of the EC. Jatiya Party and others said that the law must be made at once. However, the BNP is not in favour of having the law right at this moment. The party feels it will not have any say in the promulgation of this law as it has no representation in the current parliament.

As the Awami League is not insisting on the law right away and as the ruling party has said that it will accept whatever the president decides, there is not much apprehension of conflict over enacting such a law. What is most important is that, if the president decides to form a search committee, it must be acceptable to all. Then the search committee will have to select persons for the commission who are acceptable to all.

There is no alternative to an election commission acceptable by all for the sake of credible, free, fair and neutral elections. A consensus must be reached on the basis of this reality.

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