B'desh Govt to empower EC to debar candidates

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Dhaka, Mar 17: The LGRD and Cooperatives Ministry of Bangladesh has decided to empower the Election Commission (EC) with the authority of formulating the electoral rules for city corporations and municipalities.

The commission will now be able to disqualify the political leaders from contesting in the polls if it wants, by including the provision in the new electoral rules. The Ministry last week finalised the draft laws on formations and functions of city corporations and municipalities, and also on the qualifications and disqualifications for being elected as representatives to the two types of local governments in urban areas, without incorporating the EC's proposal. Contacted by The Daily Star on March 16, LGRD and Cooperatives Adviser Anwarul Iqbal said local government elections are absolutely non-partisan, so there is no need to include any provision in the laws disqualifying political leaders holding party posts from contesting in the polls.

''However, the Election Commission may include such restrictions in the elections rules, if it wants,'' the LGRD adviser asserted. He said the EC would be empowered with the authority to promulgate the election rules and the code of conduct for candidates contesting in elections to city corporations and municipalities, which now belongs to the LGRD ministry.

The EC made the proposal in a bid to free the local governments from the grip of partisan politics. The proposal said a political leader holding party post would have to resign from the party position to contest in elections to those local governments. The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda said if political leaders holding party posts became elected representatives to local governments, they would not be able to perform their duties properly due to holding two posts in two different institutions.

Now, the Ministry would send the draft ordinances to the council of advisers to the caretaker government for approval. Once the interim cabinet approves the drafts, the president would promulgate the ordinances turning them into laws.

The EC would announce the schedule for holding polls to four city corporations and seven municipalities after the laws are promulgated.


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