A new election commission appointed by President Zillur Rahman yesterday and hailed as a milestone for democracy has sparked outrage among members of the main opposition party who say it violates the constitution.
The commission is to be headed by Kazi Rakibuddin, a former government secretary, and will include two other former bureaucrats, a retired brigadier general and a former district judge, President Zillur Rahman told media yesterday.
The Cabinet Division made the appointments effective yesterday and commission members were to assume office today after a swearing-in ceremony.
The commission members would serve five-year terms and would be responsible principally for the next parliamentary elections in 2014.
Promod Mankin, an Awami league (AL) parliamentarian and state minister for cultural affairs, dismissed objections to the body as attempts to scuttle the democratic process.
“I think competent and clean people were appointed to the election commission. The harsh reality is BNP [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] won’t accept them. They don’t like good politics and want to create anarchy in the country.”
He added that his party in no way influenced the president or the selection process for members.
But BNP members have questioned the legality of the process in appointing the commission, which included a search committee’s recommendation for Rakibuddin as the body’s chief.
“According to the constitution, the president has no right to appoint election commissioners with proposals from a search committee. The entire process was unconstitutional and unlawful,” said BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam at a press briefing yesterday.
He further warned that party members would boycott any parliamentary elections under the new commission and advised that the restoration of a non-party caretaker government could solve the prevailing political crisis.
Bangladesh introduced a non-party caretaker government in 1996 amid mass demonstrations by the then opposition AL.
In 2011 the AL abolished the provision of a three-month non-party administration during elections by virtue of its majority rule in the parliament.
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