Badiul Alam Majumdar

Not only the people of the country, the international community also want a free, fair and inclusive election to be held in Bangladesh. The European Union (EU) has already said they would not send observers to the next parliamentary election. The US first announced a visa policy. When they saw the situation was not changing, they then started applying it. These recent decisions of the US and the EU are a clear message. They think the next parliamentary election will not be held in a fair manner.

We are not trying to understand this message of the international community. We are walking in the opposite direction instead of adopting a practical means to ensure free, fair and inclusive elections. That means there is a malaise in the body, and we are not admitting it at all. As a result, there is no urge to receive treatment. Amid this circumstance, a one-sided election is likely to be held, and if this happens the country will fall into a dangerous situation and the entire nation will have to pay the price.

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According to the media reports, chief election commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal sent a letter to the European Union assuring it that the election commission will try its best to make the election a free, fair, inclusive and credible one. The government is also highlighting its commitment repeatedly, the CEC informed the EU. But the problem is similar promises were made prior to the 2018 election. At that time, the election commission also assured them, but that did not happen in the end. So, will anyone believe the election commission’s assurance now?

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The reality is a fair election is not possible amid the existing election-related constitutional framework and the politicisation of the law enforcement agencies. This did not happen in the past and it is difficult to believe it will happen in the next election.

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We should keep one thing in mind. There are lot of data and information behind the visa policy that the US announced. The European Union also took decisions based on judicious opinions. They did not think it was necessary to obverse such an election spending the tax money of their citizens. As a result, nothing can be changed by making strong remarks. Tangible measures will have to be taken to create trust.

Badiul Alam Majumdar is the secretary of Citizens for Good Governance (SHUJAN)