Bangladesh: EC refutes opposition demand for further deferral of polls
Bangladesh poll authority Tuesday rejected the opposition's demand to further defer the general elections, a day after it delayed the polls by a week to December 30.
Last week, the Bangladesh Election Commission announced that the 11th general election will be held on December 23.
The Jatiya Oikya Front (NUF) – a political alliance of opposition parties that includes the main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – has urged the Election Commission to defer the polls by a month.
"There is no scope of delaying further the polls as the new Parliament must be formed by January 29," Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda said while briefing returning officers here.
He instructed the election officials to carry out their duties "neutrally" and "without any fear".
"We have considered a lot to set the date on December 30," Huda said.
He said the Parliament will have to sit on January 29 after the election.
"So, there is not enough time. We will need to publish gazettes for all 300 constituencies after the polls. It will take time," Huda said.
"We are happy since all the parties are going to participate in the upcoming election. However, there is no possibility of deferring the election date," the CEC said.
The Election Commission reset the date, saying it was deferred as the opposition announcement appeared "reassuring to the commission" about their participation in the elections.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has welcomed the decision to postpone the elections by a week.
"The Election Commission set December 30 as the election day at the suggestion of the government so that the elections can be rigged in the absence of poll observers," BNP spokesman Ruhul Kabir Rizvi told reporters Tuesday.
The BNP abstained from the 2014 polls over its dispute with the ruling Awami League on the timing of the polls and emerged as the main opposition party outside parliament.
It insists on the installation of a non-party caretaker government to oversee the polls.
The NUF emerged two months ago as an opposition platform and floated a seven-point demand including dissolution of parliament to pave way for a polls-time interim government for holding a credible election.
(With inputs from agencies.)