|EC draft gazette proposes changes to 133 seats|
|Wednesday, 30 April 2008|
The Election Commission (EC) Tuesday published the draft electoral district re-demarcation gazette, proposing reshuffling 133 electoral seats for the 2008 polls, reports bdnews24.com.
The remaining 167 electoral districts will remain unaffected, the draft gazette said. The EC has published the proposed changes division-wise according to their administrative districts.
Chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda unveiled the draft gazette of the re-demarcated electoral districts at a press conference in the EC Secretariat's conference room.
"We have no other alternative to re-designating the electoral districts. It has been accomplished following the area-redefining regulations, based on population quota in accordance with the latest census," he said.
The two other election commissioners—Muhammad Sahul Hossain and M Sakhawat Hossain—and the EC secretary Muhammad Humayun Kabir were present at the press conference.
The CEC said except the Dhaka district electoral seats—all of which have been redesigned—no major changes to the rest have been made. Objections to the proposed changes to the electoral districts may be raised in writing by June 1 on condition that the people opposing a proposed change in a certain district must hail from the same district, Huda said.
Change-related objections and requests will be heard until June 25 and resolved as best as possible and then the final gazette will be published on June 30, he added.
Asked if the election roadmap implementation will be impeded in any manner because of redefining the electoral districts, the CEC said the constitution did not bar redefining the electoral districts. Even then, he said, should there be objections, the court should be easily cancelling those citing article 125 of the constitution.
On the technology used in redefining the electoral districts, Huda said keeping the people and the nation's geographical bounds and sovereignty in mind, latest GIS technology and local government maps had been used.
The re-demarcation, which aims to reduce anomalies in population and number of voters in different electoral districts, will reshuffle the seats among 18 administrative districts, he added.
The proposed reshuffle, according to a population-based quota, in Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Chandpur, Chittagong, Comilla, Barguna, Barisal, Patuakhali, Satkhira, Dhaka, Faridpur, Gazipur, Kishoreganj, Manikganj, Meherpur, Munshiganj, Mymensingh and Netrokona districts include the following division-wise changes.
Rajshahi division's 16 districts will end up with the same 72 constituencies allocated before, but one seat goes from Rajshahi district to Sirajganj district. The 11 districts under Chittagong division will have a total of 58 electoral seats, one less than before as Chandpur and Chittagong districts lose one each while Chitttagong district gains one.
Barisal division's six districts will lose two seats with the total number of constituencies standing at 21. The 10 districts under Khulna division will lose one constituency, in Satkhira district, for a total of 36 seats.
The 17 districts of Dhaka division will have four more seats, taking the total number to 94. Dhaka district alone will get seven additional seats, taking the total number to 20.
The four districts of Sylhet division will keep the same 19 constituencies in total. For ensuring representation of the hill tracts population, and that of other small administrative districts, it was proposed that each of the three hill districts will have one seat and the smaller districts will have two seats each.
The 300-member national parliament was formed in 1973 by proportionately dividing the country's then 7.5 crore population. In the 2007 census statistics, the country's population stood at 12.44 crore.
According to the Delimitation of Constituencies Ordinance, 1976, the parliamentary seats have to be redefined before an election basing on the latest census results keeping in view the administrative units and communication systems.
Though the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics has published regular census reports every ten years, in 1974, 1981, 1991 and 2001, the Election Commission has not redefined the electoral constituencies as mandated.
It was not until 1995 that a small number of seats were eventually redefined in view of recurrent river erosion and shoals surfacing in the affected areas.
Following the 2008 election roadmap, the redefining of the electoral districts must be completed by June. The draft redefining electoral constituency will be accessible at the Election Commission website: www.ecs.gov.bd
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