EC wants to ease way for independent candidates
The Election Commission Secretariat has made a draft of 31 recommendations from the over 500 proposals put forward by political parties during discussions on the upcoming parliamentary elections, including plans to ease the way for independent candidates.
Currently, an independent parliamentary candidate has to show proof of support by including signatures from 1 percent of the voters in the constituency in order to qualify.
EC officials have come out in support of changing the requirement to 1,000 signatures for independent candidates.
According to a senior official at the EC Secretariat, independent candidates at the Union Parishad level do not have to demonstrate support.
Independent candidates at the municipal level need a minimum of 100 signatures, Upazilas 250, City Corporations 300.
Some parties proposed the inclusion of ‘armed forces’ deployment in addition to law enforcers in the Representation of the People Order or RPO, but the matter was not included in the EC draft, officials say.
Among the 31 recommendations are online applications for nominations, new rules for EVMs, measures to vote before voting officers, issuing EC ID cards to polling agents, removing the equal opportunity lottery rules and holding a new vote, the formation of a monitoring committee to audit, monitor and investigate election expenses, a Tk 100,000 fine for failing to submit an expense statement, temporary removals of voting officials who are accused of irregularities, a third party to monitor irregularities and partisanship and a special centre to speed up the processing and settlement of voting complaints.
At least two dozen sections of the RPO will have to added, removed or amended if these recommendations from the political parties, civil society, media, women representatives, election observers and election experts are accepted.
An EC Secretariat official said that the draft will be reviewed by a committee on reforming rules and regulations led by Election Commissioner Kabita Khanam.
“We can give you more specifics following the meeting,” said acting Election Commission Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed.
“We have already met a few times,” a member of the committee told Media. “We will bring an acceptable draft to the commission after further review.”
The recommendations will be finalised and sent to the ministry after a commission meeting including the chief election commissioner and the other commissioners.