Election Commission moves to abolish its own power
Move causes surprise and concern in Bangladesh
A picture taken during the last general election in 2008 (Chandan Robert Rebeiro)
ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
July 31, 2013
With a general election just a few months away, the Bangladesh Election Commission has caused surprise and consternation by deciding to abolish its own authority to cancel candidacies.
Election Commissioner Abu Hafiz told journalists in Dhaka this week that the Law Ministry has been asked to amend electoral laws so that the EC is no longer empowered to end a person’s candidacy.
It was controversially invested with the authority in 2008, in order to crack down on any electoral violations or abuses, but it has never been used.
Analysts and observers say that although the authority was in effect symbolic, it has been effective in curbing candidates’ electoral malpractices, such as providing false financial statements, unlawful use of funds and inappropriate behavior towards election officials.
Dilip Kumar Sarkar, coordinator of Citizens for Good Governance, says the EC is taking a wrong path.
“For years we have campaigned for strengthening the EC, in order to empower democracy. We think this move will weaken the commission and we fear it might mean the return of malpractices,” he told ucanews.com.
Former election commissioner M Shakhawat Hussein described the decision as unacceptable and speculated on the possibility of a hidden agenda. “It seems the commission is not proposing the change out of its own free will but because it is being pressed,” he said.
Nirmol Rozario, secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, added to the dissent.
“I think the EC’s decision won’t help in holding elections fairly and it will also harm democratic practices,” he said.
This Catholic group tends to operate apart from regular church structures
Khairul Ghazali uses own experience to help steer vulnerable Indonesian children away from the path of radicalization
Families discuss how children of mixed married couples have rights that the church must care for
It aims to help Catholics who want spiritual help get it because they have fallen away from their parishes
A dozen cases have already been recorded in the Philippines