EC's delay in registering new parties not acceptable

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

The Election Commission (EC) led by Kazi Habibul Awal drew up a roadmap for the forthcoming national election, so they could carry out their tasks accordingly.

The parliamentary election is scheduled to be held towards the end of December this year or the beginning of January next year. The fact that the commission has been unable to carry out its tasks in accordance to its work plan or roadmap announced in September last year, is evident in its failure to register new political parties.

According to a Prothom Alo report, EC had said it would complete the registration of the new political parties within June this year, in view of the coming 12th parliamentary polls. In was in their roadmap to scrutinise the applications for the new registration in May and then to publish the list of the newly registered political parties in June. But till the last working day of June, EC has failed to complete examining the information from the field regarding the applicant parties.

In October last year, 93 parties applied to EC for registration. Of these, 12 were shortlisted. These included AB Party (Amar Bangladesh Party), Bangladesh Nationalist Movement (BNM), Bangladesh Humanist Party (BHP), Gono Odhikar Parishad, Nagorik Oikya, Bangladesh Sanatan Party, Bangladesh Supreme Party, Bangladesh Labour Party, Bangladesh Minority Janata Party (BMJP), Bangladesh People's Party (BPP), Democratic Party and Bangladesh Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP).

Meanwhile, there is talk that AB Party comprises former leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. Political analysts think that if this party is registered, then many former Jamaat leaders will be able to contest in the election in the name of the new party. Political circles are also speculating over Jamaat-e-Islami being given permission to openly hold a rally after 10 years.

According to the Representation of the People Order (RPO), if any party is not registered with the election commission, it cannot contest in the election under the party symbol. According to the RPO and the rules pertaining to registration of political parties, it is mandatory for any party applying for registration to have a central committee, a central committee office and active district offices in one-third of the districts of the country and offices in 100 upazilas or metropolitan thanas.

At least 200 voters must be enlisted as party members in every upazila. Many parties feel that such criteria are unrealistic. Then again, many parties resorted to the law as they met all the criteria of election commission before the last election, but still were not given registration. Recently Bangladesh Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Bangladesh JSD) was given registration following a court order.

There are 42 parties presently registered with the election commission. Several of these are more or less inactive. Then again, there are many unregistered parties that have public support and are organisationally active. EC should carry out the registration of new parties as soon as possible.

The more the delay, the more the role of EC will be questioned.