Noted personalities on Tuesday asked the new Election Commission headed by Kazi Habibul Awal to gain public trust through their impartial works and not use Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in the election.
They came up with the suggestions while joining the EC’s dialogue held at the city’s Nirbachan Bhaban. Some 19 persons out of 39 invitees attended the talks.
“Now the challenge is to restore confidence in the election management... Arrange fair elections using experiences. Set an example by working with fortitude and keep up the courage to resign if obstacles come,” said noted economist Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya at the talks.
Describing the use of EVM as a very controversial matter, he said it would be better to stay away from it. “EVM may complicate the situation further in future. EVM should not be used at risk,” said Dr Bhattacharya.
TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman asked the EC to place necessary legal reform proposals to restore public trust and arrange participatory and neutral elections after objective analysis of the existing laws and rules. In this case, a proposal can be considered so that it would be possible to reach a compromise over controversial matters like joining elections and remaining as the election-time government and public representatives, he said.
“The practices of allegiance to the State must be established, shunning the psychological position for allegiance to the government,” said Dr Iftekharuzzaman.
He said restoration of the constitutional status of the Election Commission and attainment of public confidence depend on how the constitutional body proves itself as an institution of the state, not of the government.
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said the voters have become reluctant for election due to the EC’s questionable role in the past. “It was not possible to hold a neutral election under a partisan government. The government failed to prove that the elections were fair by holding the last two elections under a partisan government,” he said.
CPD distinguished fellow Prof Mustafizur Rahman said, “If you use EVM, you will face questions. Arrange a fair and neutral election.”
Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Mohammed Farashuddin said since EVM is a controversial one, it should not be used before the removal of controversy.
Founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra Zafrullah Chowdhury said the present commission faces a trust deficit a little bit due to the search committee as it didn’t disclose all names it proposed for appointment as CEC and Election Commissioners.
Questions arose over two commissioners as one is the former secretary of Nurul Huda-led commission and another is son-in-law of an Awami League leader, he said.
Zafrullah Chowdhury suggested the EC take bold steps for fair elections and speak truth.
Besides, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation Shaheen Anam, writer Mohiuddin Ahmad, Prof Sheikh Hafizur Rahman Karzon, Prof Robaet Ferdous, former secretaries Abu Alam Md Shahid Khan and Abdul Latif Mondal, Chairman of Leadership Studies Foundation Dr Sinha MA Sayeed, Coordinator at Nijera Kori Khushi Kabir and general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples' Forum Sanjeeb Drong, among others, attended the dialogue.
The new election commission sat in its first talks with educationists on March 13 last after taking over the charge in the mid-February last.