December 14, 2023
DHAKA – Political parties’ rights have not been curtailed because the Election Commission asked the government to restrict political events, according to Election Commissioner Md Alamgir.
There is no restriction on peaceful programmes by political parties, he told reporters yesterday evening.
“They [political parties] can organise such programmes with the authorities’ permission. However, the government has been asked to stop events that create obstacles to a fair election,” he said.
The EC had not asked for stopping all political rallies and meetings, but if speakers at a programme say those who go to cast their vote will face consequences, then they will face legal action, he said.
The EC recently asked the government to take measures from December 18 to stop political programmes like rallies and gatherings unless they are part of an election campaign.
Political parties should be stopped from holding political programmes like rallies and other events that may obstruct the election process and discourage people from casting their vote, said the letter sent to the Public Security Division of the home ministry.
When reporters asked him for comments, Alamgir said, “Our point is that if a rally or programme is an obstruction to the election, it should not be allowed.”
If a party says it will not participate in the election and urges voters not to cast their votes, the Election Commission has nothing to say.
The letter was given to prevent arson, damage to rail lines, and obstruction to voting, he said.
Meanwhile, the Public Security Division yesterday directed the inspector general of police (IGP) not to allow political parties to organise rallies and gatherings unless the event is part of an election campaign.
The restriction will be in place from December 18 to the election on January 7.
Deputy Inspector General Anowar Hossain said, “We have instructed all the units to follow the directives given in the [EC] letter.”
The development takes place as BNP, its allies, and several left-leaning political parties demand that the national election be held under a non-partisan polls-time government. The BNP and several other opposition parties have been enforcing blockades and strikes in protest.
Several EC sources said the commission did not send such letters ahead of the three previous elections.