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EC sees end in sight after one year of dialogue PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 27 April 2008


Beginning April 26 last year, the Election Commission has met with representatives of civil society and media, and held two rounds of talks with 17 major political parties since September, on reform electoral law.

Election commissioner Sakhawat Hussain spoke to as the dialogue process completed one year Saturday. The EC will start registering political parties by finalising necessary laws after the ongoing talks are concluded, Sakhawat said.

"The registration of parties will top the list of priorities as soon as the dialogue ends." The election official said they are working to complete reforms to electoral laws to that end, by bringing BNP into the dialogue.

The EC has wrapped up two rounds of talks with all the parties except BNP, following its split into two factions over party leadership in absence of detained chairperson Khaleda Zia.

An ensuing legal wrangle stalled the BNP-EC dialogue for months. Over the past one year, the EC the electoral reform talks have discussed such issues as the public representation ordinance 2007 and rules and regulations for party registration.

Commissioner Sakhawat said they will forward the draft recommendations extracted from the dialogue to the law ministry within one week of the dialogue process ending.

He said because of the protracted dialogue many important benchmarks of the previously-declared election roadmap cannot be followed. As per the roadmap, the registration of the parties is supposed to be complete by June, but this may not happen, he said.

About the much-debated local government polls, Sakhawat said: "Voting for a number of expired municipality and city corporation bodies, including Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal and Khulna, will be held early. Polls to local government bodies, including Dhaka City Corporation, will be held later."

According to the local government ministry polls it will not be possible to hold polls for some 80 municipalities because of legal gridlock. On the progress of voter listing, the commissioner said: "We hope we will have registered some 8 crore voters across the country by the first week of July." The EC declared the electoral roadmap on July 15 last year. It has promised the national elections by the end of this year.

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