EC Reaffirms Jan-Feb Local Polls
Tuesday, 14 September 2010

An election commissioner has reaffirmed the commission's resolve to hold municipal and union council elections by January or February 2011.

Election commissioner Sohul Hossain has said that the commission intends to hold the municipal and Union Parishad polls within January and February.

The decision comes following the cabinet's approval in principle to bring changes to the law to revise the demarcation of wards.

The cabinet on Sep 6 approved the amendment of the municipal act.

"Since the amendment has been approved in the municipal act, we are expecting that similar change to the UP act will also be allowed and that the amendment will be passed in the parliamentary session set to start on Sep 20," Sohul Hossain told bdnews24.com on Monday.

EC officials acknowledged that conflict over ward area demarcation was a major obstacle to holding the local government polls.

Major changes to union, municipal and city corporation areas would require revising the demarcation according to existing laws, which would have prompted the affected parties to file law suits, causing a huge legal problem.

Doubts over holding the polls would arise if the already-delayed polls were further setback by such conflicts.

Local government minister Syed Ashraful Islam and state minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak had earlier revealed their plans to hold the polls within December.

Election commissioner M Shakhawat Hossain told bdnews24.com: "Primary preparations to hold the union-municipality polls are underway. However, if the polls are not held by the start of next year, there are doubts about them being held in the current commission's tenure, which ends in February 2012."

On Aug 2, the EC ordered district election officers to draw up a list of possible polling centres.

Shakhawat also said that the poll regulations and codes of conduct have been decreed for the UP and municipalities. If amendments are brought to the act, no further changes in the regulations will be required.

WHEN AND HOW

Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda has already declared the commission's plan to hold polls at all municipalities in one day and the UP polls staggered over six days.

Election commissioner M Shakhwat Hossain told bdnews24.com: "The duration, in which these polls will be held, would be decided upon at a commission meeting before declaring the poll schedule. However, we are contemplating to hold staggered polls in a bid to reduce the hassle."

The local government ministry has informed the EC that tenures of 272 municipalities, out of the 308 in the country, have expired already. Other than these, seven will expire in 2010, 20 during 2011, one in 2012 and eight in 2013.

Out of the 4,504 Union Parishad in the country, tenures of 4,228 have already expired. They include around 50 UP where polls have been delayed by more than a decade due to various complications. The last polls where held between January and March of 2003 at more than 4,000 UP.

Source: bdnews24.com

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