No further rescheduling of polls: EC

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The Election Commission on Thursday ruled out the possibility of further deferring the general election schedule from December 30.
Dismissing the opposition Jatiya Oikya Front’s proposal to defer the election by three weeks, EC secretary Helaluddin Ahmed told a press conference that the took the decision not to reschedule the polls due to some legal and technical reasons.
He said that the EC needed some buffer days between the polling day and the day of expiry of Parliament.
There are also the obligation to hold by-elections and re-elections if needed, investigations into electoral irregularities and organizing oaths to the new MPs immediately after Parliament’s tenure ends on January 28, 2019.
He said that the EC also had to consider that the Biswa Ijtema would be held in two phases in January.
He said that the EC took the decision after considering all the matters and issues vis a vis Jatiya Oikya Front’s demand for deferring the polls by three weeks.
He said that the demand did not appear to be logical.
On Wednesday, a JOF delegation led by Dr Kamal Hossain requested the EC to defer the election by three weeks and said that JOF’s participation in the election would depend on the attitude of the commission and the government.
The delegation also demanded not to use electronic voting machines and demanded deployment of army in the election.
The EC secretary said that the commission decided to deploy troops in the election but duration deployment was yet to be decided.
He said that after discussions with the army the EC will take the decision about the process and duration of deployment.
He also said that the commission decided to use EVM in small scales in the cities.
But while addressing assistant returning officers training at Nirbachan Bhaban in the morning, the EC secretary said that troops would be deployed for two to 10 days alongside the other law enforcement agencies during the general election.
On Wednesday, ruling Awami League urged the EC not to defer the polls again and opposed the demand voiced by the JOF.
An AL delegation made the demand at a meeting with the EC, hours after the JOF delegation held a meeting with the EC to demand deferring the polls by three weeks.
On November 12, the EC rescheduled the election for December 30 from December 23.
The revised schedule was announced by chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda a day after the JOF decided to join the polls and demanded deferring the polls by one month.
AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Jukta Front demanded deferring the polls by one week.
The last general election, held on January 5, 2014, drew widespread criticism as all the opposition political parties boycotted it and 153 MPs were elected uncontested.

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