Delay in Dhaka mayors to take over office must not hamper civic amenities


The unofficial results of the 1 February city corporation polls are awaiting official approval and, according to the rules, the elected representatives will be sworn in within one month of the legal notification. But Dhaka south city mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and north city mayor Atiqul Islam will not be able to take charge right after the oath as they have to wait for three more months.

According to the Local Government (City Corporation) Act 2009, after the city corporationi fomred, its term will remain for five years after its first meeting.

Earlier, elections were held in two city corporations of Dhaka on 28 April 2015, and the first meeting of Dhaka North City Corpration (DNCC) was held on 14 May  and the first meeting of the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) on 17 May. In that case, Atiqul Islam will have to wait until 14 May and Fazle Noor Taposh in the south till 17 May to offically take over as mayors.  

So what is the point of holding election in advance? The city dwellers thought the earlier the election would take place the sooner they would get new mayors. But that is not possible due to legal constraints and irresponsible decisions of the election commission.

Former DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam had resigned to become a candidate. At the time of his resignation, he did not appoint anyone. There is a panel mayor there though. Awami League, on the other hand, fielded a new candidate in the south expressing its dissatisfaction with the former DSCC mayor Sayeed Khokon. In such a situation it is difficult to expect proper service from the departing mayor.

According to the law, the corporation has the obligation to hold elections within the last 6 months of its tenure. This does not mean the election must be held in the last fifth or sixth last months of the term. If the election is held at the end of the term, the citizens do not have to remain without an elected mayor for long.

Although the commission has the sole authority to announce the schedule of national elections, in the case of local government agencies, the EC has to obtain the permission from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. Election dates can be announced within 180 days or can be halted for years if the ministry wishes. This dual rule needs to be avoided in the local government and the governance system.

Since the post of mayor is vacant in the north, Atiqul Islam can take over the office first, some contend. But it is not about the mayor alone. Currently there are elected councilors in the North City Corporation, who have been elected for the previous term. Previously elected councilors may not be members of the new term council.

Before the election, the city dwellers anticipated that the new mayor would take swift actions to fulfil his promises. But now it appears that they will not be able to take charge before the 14 or 17 May. Councillors cannot take over if the two mayors do not take the office. Both the local government ministry and the election commission knew the problem. Yet they created the stagnant situation by holding the election. It would not have happened if the authorities considered the interesrs of the city dwellers.

The concerned authorities need to pay extra attention to ensure that civic amenities not disrupted in any way.

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