March 5, 2024, 8:47 pm

Staff Correspondent

2023-11-29 03:20:06 BdST

Response from foreign observers better than earlier: EC

Election Commission (EC) Secretary Jahangir Alam on Tuesday said they have received a better response from foreign observers for monitoring the 12th national parliamentary elections compared to the earlier times.

After an inter-ministerial meeting on various issues, including visa processing and clearance of foreign observers, the EC secretary said, “Foreign individuals, journalists and institutions will come to observe the upcoming 12th Parliamentary Elections of Bangladesh.

The main objective of the meeting was to discuss the Election Commission's Foreign Observer Policy and the arrival of those who wish to come at their own expenses and those invited by the EC.”

“We sat with the civil aviation ministry, home affairs ministry, foreign affairs ministry, information and broadcasting ministry, and the civil aviation authority to discuss how we can provide an uninterrupted service to those guests. It was a regular meeting,” said the secretary.

“We have a help desk at the airport for foreign guests, so they can easily pass through the immigration control and check into their designated hotel.

We also have a help desk at the hotel, from where the journalists can get information related to the election. The hotel where they would stay was finalised in the meeting. Issues related to their safety were also finalised. The issue of healthcare in case of sudden illness was discussed too,” Alam said.

Those who will come on their own initiative can apply till 7 December and invitees can register till 15 December. So how many people are coming at their own expense will be known after 7 December and the number of invitees will be known after 16 December, he said.

The EC secretary also said applications regarding the foreign observers will be sent to the foreign affairs and home affairs ministries, which will give approval for the observers about whom they have no objection as per their policies.

Asked whether the election observers will be allowed to go anywhere, Alam said there will be a guideline, according to which decisions in this regard will be made.

So far 87 observers have applied to monitor the national elections, said sources.

Army may be deployed during elections

In Madaripur, Election Commissioner Md Alamgir has said there is a chance of deploying the army in the 12th National Parliamentary Elections.

Since the army was deployed in the previous national elections, there is a possibility of deploying it in the 12th parliamentary elections too. No final decision regarding the matter has been taken yet.

However, the commission is taking preparation keeping that possibility in mind, he said at a views exchange meeting with election-related officials at the Madaripur district administration office on Tuesday.

Alamgir also said, “The EC has received the list of observers coming from foreign countries for the 12th National Parliamentary Elections. No one has yet said foreigners will not come to watch the elections.”

“The commission has made all kinds of preparations to make the elections fair. The voter list and the polling stations are prepared and the election equipment have been fixed. Training of returning officers has been completed. All kinds of measures have been taken to hold the election in a fair and acceptable manner. The executive magistrates are in the field to enforce the electoral code of conduct,” said the election commissioner.

If the BNP does not contest the elections, there is no pressure from the outside world, said Election Commissioner Alamgir, adding that participating in the elections is a party’s own decision, which cannot be imposed from outside. Previously, it was observed that not all political parties participate in an election.

Urging the BNP again to join the polls, Alamgir said, “The BNP is being invited to participate in the elections. Not only the BNP, but 44 political parties have been invited by the commission to participate in the national elections.

If the BNP wants to contest the polls, then the polls date may be deferred. In that case, the Election Commission agrees.”

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