October 27, 2023
DHAKA -Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal stated that in the event of significant voting irregularities, the entire national election would be halted and held again.
He made the statement while replying to a comment of The Daily Observer Editor Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury at a workshop titled “12th National Parliament Election: Role of the Media, Expectations of the Nation” at the EC Secretariat in Agargaon today.
Iqbal questioned the CEC, asking, “You’ve advised presiding officers to halt the elections if they are not conducted properly. What will you do if irregularities occur across the entire country?”
In response, the CEC asserted, “In such a scenario, there will be no election. Elections will be halted nationwide and will be held again. If irregularities are identified at a specific polling centre, voting there will be stopped, and it will be rescheduled. We have to be courageous.”
Earlier in his speech, the CEC said that presiding officers would act as the CEC at polling stations. They have been instructed to take measures to prevent election irregularities.
If they are unable to do so, they will seek assistance from magistrates and law enforcement agencies. Should their efforts prove insufficient, they will suspend the voting at that location and conduct it anew at a later time, he added.
During the event, editors raised concerns, pointing out that the CEC’s statement regarding the election environment not meeting expectations, appeared to be contradictory.
On the one hand, preparations for the election are underway, while on the other, such statements are being made, causing fear among political parties.
About concerns over his comment on unfavourable election conditions, CEC Kazi Habibul Awal clarified that while the election environment is not entirely favourable, it does not imply that the election will not be held.
He went on to say, “The language may have been wrong. But I can still personally say that the environment is not completely favourable. But this doesn’t mean we won’t hold the election. I steer a ship; I can navigate it with or against the current, but I must move forward even when conditions are unfavourable.”