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‘Holding January 5 election was a constitutional obligation’
February 8th, 2017 at 10:18 pm
‘Holding January 5 election was a constitutional obligation’

Dhaka – Outgoing Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad has said that holding of the January 5, 2014 parliamentary election, boycotted by major opposition parties, was a constitutional obligation.

“There was no way other than holding the election at that time for continuation of constitutional consistency,” Ahmad told a press conference as his tenure as CEC expires on Wednesday.

The outgoing head of the quasi-judicial body said that it became a challenge to hold the election at that time since the political parties failed to come to a consensus.

As the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led political alliance of former prime minister Khaleda Zia boycotted the national polls, most of the lawmakers belonging to Awami League-led combine of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina were elected unopposed.

The BNP also tried to prevent holding of the election causing violence on polling stations leaving as many as 30 people killed before, during and after the election on January 5.

The party also tried to unseat the Awami League-led coalition government on the following year (in 2015) launching an all-out transport blockade that continued for more than three months across Bangladesh. Violence during the blockade left at least 130 people killed.

Ahmad who was on the helm of the Election Commission at that time clarified his position on holding of the election. Election commissioners Mohammad Abdul Mobarak, Mohammad Abu Hafiz, Brigadier General Md Zabed Ali (retd) and Md Shah Nawaz were also present at the briefing.

Ahmad-led commission also held elections to the local government bodies in phases that also witnessed bloodsheds. He took upon the charge of the EC on February 9, 2012.

But the CEC claimed that he discharged his duties impartially as head of the electoral body in the last five years amid many a limitations and challenges.

“We have successfully overcome those challenges… We have also arranged six elections properly with success,” said Ahmad adding that he discharged duties impartially.

“I did not receive any calls from any quarter or even received any pressure from any side. I delivered my duties neutrally during my tenure,” claimed Ahmad who will be replaced by KM Nurul Huda, a former bureaucrat.

President Abdul Hamid on Monday appointed Huda as new CEC who will conduct the next parliamentary election scheduled to be held before January 5, 2019.

Former secretary Md Rafiqul Islam, a former additional secretary Mahbub Talukder, former district and sessions judge Kabita Khanam, and retired brigadier general Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury are the members of his commission.