Currently, there are 39 political parties registered with the election commission. Fifteen of them, including the de facto opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), did not propose any name, alleging that the search committee members are supporters of ruling Awami League and it would be a futile try to participate in the process.

The search committee, formed on 5 February after hurriedly passing a law in the Jatiya Sangsad (parliament) regarding constituting the election commission last month, asked for competent names through a release on 6 February. Later, the search committee Wednesday sent letters to the offices of registered political parties requesting to propose not more than 10 names by 5:00pm Friday.

Speaking to newspersons on Friday afternoon, cabinet division joint secretary Shafiul Azim, who is the secretary of the search committee, said 24 registered political parties proposed the names. Besides, six professional bodies including the Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), Engineers Institution Bangladesh and Krishibid Institution, also proposed names. Outsides of the names, many names have been proposed from home and abroad by individuals, mostly through email, he added.

He, however, could not immediately confirm the exact number of people proposed. The names would be sent to the search committee.

Nearly 350 names

Though the political parties had the opportunity to submit 10 names, some of them sent fewer names while some sent only five names, one for the chief election commissioner and four for four other commissioners, search committee sources said. Most of the 200 names proposed by individual level were mostly of themselves. Many of the names, proposed without any bio-data, are not likely to be considered.

Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) proposed 10 names including several secretaries and additional secretaries while Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh proposed the name of former cabinet secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan for chief election commissioner.

Awami League proposes names

Information and research affairs secretary of Awami League, Selim Mahmud and deputy office secretary Sayem Khan submitted the proposed names to the cabinet division on Friday.

Speaking to Prothom Alo Selim Mahmud said he submitted the names, chosen by the party president Sheikh Hasina and other presidium members, in a sealed envelope. He does not know the names, he added.

14-party alliance sources said Awami League and the allies are somehwat divided over whether the name of any former senior secretary or judge is to be proposed for chief election commissioner.

Awami League joint general secretary Mahbub-ul-Alam Hanif told Prothom Alo that they have proposed 10 names as part of assistance to the search committee. The committee will review the names and propose the names it deems fit to the president.

On the last day, Bangladesher Workers Party, Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, Tariqat Federation, Jatiya Party (JP) and several other parties submitted the names for the chief election commissioner and four other election commissioners.

Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh said they proposed five names. The party proposed the name of former cabinet secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan for chief election commissioner, while local government expert professor Tofail Ahmed, journalist Abu Sayeed Khan, Fair Election Monitoring Alliance’s (FEMA) Munira Khan and economist Ahsan H Mansur as the four other election commissioners.

Earlier, on Thursday, at least five registered political parties including Jatiya Party (JaPa), Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) proposed the names to the search committee. The parties suggested the names are mostly known as allies of Awami League.

14-party alliance and JSD president Hasanul Huq Inu told Prothom Alo that they requested the cabinet division not to disclose the names they proposed. But the party demanded disclosing the names the search committee will submit to the president for consideration.

Pressed on, Inu said anyone of former justices and secretaries could be the CEC. But someone who has proved his integrity and courage in his or her professional years should be chosen, he added.

Besides the proposed names, the search committee itself also can choose competent people and propose the 10 names to president M Abdul Hamid, who will form the five-member election commission.

The tenure of current EC will end on 14 February. Since independence, this is the first time the EC will be formed as per a law. On 27 January, ‘Appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Bill-2022’ was passed in the Jatiya Sangsad. Later, on 5 February, the president formed a six-member search committee, headed by Appellate Division judge Obaidul Hasan, for selecting the next chief election commissioner and other election commissioners.

However, it’s not clear whether the committee could submit the names to the president before 14 February. As a result, nobody could say when the new EC will be formed. The search committee sources said they were given 15 working days for proposing the names, which means, they have time until 24 February.

* The report is a combination of two reports, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, and has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza

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