Gonoforum president Dr Kamal Hossain called upon all to be united to safeguard voting rights.

"People have to be aware and unity has to be built up across the country," said Kamal while addressing a seminar on 'people's thoughts on the current national crisis and its solution' at the National Press Club on Saturday.

Speaking as the chair of the seminar organised under the banner of civil society, Dr Kamal said people are the owners of the country. Voting rights is the most valuable right of the people. An active role must be played to safeguard this right, otherwise those who want to deprive people of this right, will be successful.

In the written speech at the seminar, he said the country is now in deep crisis. All the sectors of the state are vulnerable now.

He said, "In accordance with the demand of the people for a neutral election, the government should have formulated a necessary law for constituting a strong election commission. But the government has formulated a law hurriedly to divert the conscience of the nation to a different direction. The law has been enacted merely to form a search committee. However, the government is declaring that the law has been enacted to constitute the election commission. It is a mockery and farce."

Former adviser to the caretaker government and ex-cabinet secretary Akbar Ali Khan said he has no confidence in the search committee formed by the president to constitute the election commission.

He said the civil society leaders have expressed their trust in the search committee.

"I have no trust in it. Complete neutral persons won't be found."

Akbar Ali Khan said the election commission will not be able to organise a fair election even if it wants. For this, an election system has to be established.

Most of the powers have been entrusted with the returning officers, he said adding the election commission has no power to change their decision.

Akbar Ali Khan also said the legal power in the polling centres has been given to the presiding officer. The returning officer cannot change their decision, he added.

The former cabinet secretary said the deputy commissioners discharge duties as returning officers during the national election.

Government and MPO included teachers and bankers become the presiding officer,s he pointed out saying they have to listen to the government if they want to keep their jobs.

To control this, the government's power over the bureaucracy has to be curtailed. The EC alone cannot do anything.

Akbar Ali Khan said the political parties have to be reformed. Most of the parties do not believe in democratic norms and practices.

Dhaka University professor Asif Nazrul said the government has undertaken three tasks to control the results of the next national election.

The government has formed the search committee with people loyal to them, he said, adding that through this a submissive and spineless election commission will be formed.

The vote rigging will be carried out through the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) without paper audit trail, the DU professor said.

Asif Nazrul said the election will not be neutral under prime minister Sheikh Hasina even if Akbar Ali Khan led the election commission.

Among others, Gonoforum MP Mokabbir Khan and lawyer Rizwana Hasan also spoke.