The "Rifle or sword in exchange of sword" statement made by chief election commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal is 'suicidal', according to Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
TIB has asked the CEC to withdraw this statement immediately, reports UNB.
Awal made the comment at a discussion with Nationalist Democratic Movement (NDM) on Sunday.
He reportedly said, "The Election Commission (EC) will fail to hold a free and fair election if they don't get cooperation from all the political parties. We'll try our best, but if anyone points a sword towards you, you'll have to point a rifle or sword towards him instead of running away."
Expressing wonder and frustration, TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said, "The EC is a responsible, constitutional institution and as head of this organisation, the CEC is responsible for holding a free, fair and participatory election. But the 'Rifle or sword for sword'-type of statement by him will only encourage further violence and muscle power. TIB hopes that the CEC will provide an explanation for such a comment and withdraw it in no time."
Iftekharuzzaman added that besides a participatory election, arranging a peaceful election should also be the pledge of the EC. But, making comments that incite violence is a sign of the EC's failure to do so.
"We hope that the EC will devise and implement strategies to hold a peaceful, participatory election and avoid violent means. Also, it is expected that the election commissioners will refrain from making any statement that may have the potential to encourage violence during elections," added Iftekharuzzaman.