No EVM in next general elections: CECStaff Correspondent
The Election Commission on Sunday announced it would not use the much-discussed Electronic Voting Machine in the next general elections, saying the
device requires ‘further improvement’ to make it ‘dependable’.
The EC also said the holding of free, fair and neutral general elections would not require any amendment to the existing laws as the nation has ‘accepted’ the existing laws, including the recent amendments to the Constitution.
Speaking at a media briefing in the EC’s conference room, chief election commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad said, ‘We are not ready to use the EVM in the national elections. It will require an amendment to the existent law as well as further improvement before the device is ready to be used in the national polls.’
‘We have decided that the EVM will be used only on a limited scale in the local government polls,’ he added. ‘It will have to be improved further and made more dependable so that we can use it in the future.’
The EC’s decision of not using the EVM was made amidst loud disputes between the ruling and opposition political camps as the BNP and its allies have threatened to boycott the polls if the device is used.
When asked whether the EC would need to make any changes in the electoral code of conduct if the elections are held before the dissolution of Parliament, the CEC did not reply.
But election commissioner Abdul Mobarak, who was sitting next to him, said the EC would not need any change in the electoral code of conduct even if the national elections are held before the dissolution of Parliament.
‘Article 66 of the Constitution clearly states how the polls are to be held,’ he added.
When asked whether the EC would take any initiatives to ensure a level playing field
in the elections following the 15th Amendment which enables incumbent MPs to contest the polls, another election commissioner Shah Nawaz said the EC would go by the law.
When asked whether the electoral laws should not be changed in the greater interest of the country, Abdul Mobarak said it was the national Parliament which was supposed to frame the laws. ‘We will go by the Constitution and the existing laws,’ he added.
Mahabub-Ul-Alam Hanif, the joint general secretary of the ruling Awami League, told New Age that his party would accept the decision of the election commission.
‘We advocated for EVM for smooth voting and counting of ballot papers. If the election commission decides not to use it in next polls, we have noting to say,’ Hanif said.
In reply to a question whether the EC should ask the government to change the laws to ensure a level playing field for the sake of free and fair polls, he said there was nothing to propose.
‘We will hold the next general elections in accordance with the concerned provisions of the existing Constitution and the laws, as the nation has accepted these laws. The law is not for a certain person only,’ he added.
Referring to the preparations for holding elections, Rakib said the EC would have to hold elections to various local government bodies like four city corporations and upazila parishads before and after the general elections.
When asked whether the upazila elections are to be held before or after the general elections, the CEC said the EC was preparing to hold both the elections simultaneously.
‘However, we are yet to decide whether the upazila polls will be held before the general elections,’ said Rakib.
The EC will have to hold elections to the upazilas on any date between July 2013 and January 2014 during which period it will remain busy preparing for the national elections scheduled to be held on any day between 26 October, 2013 and 24 January, 2014.
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