Bangladesh's main opposition party may take part in Dhaka city polls

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Election Commission official says elections to be held in January. 

The BNP, Bangladesh's main opposition party, is likely to participate in the Dhaka city polls, to be held in January next year. However, many leftist parties are yet to decide on contesting the elections.

Both the ruling Awami League and opposition Jatiya Party say they are preparing for the polls to Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC).

Election Commission Senior Secretary Md Alamgir on Sunday said the polls to the two city corporations would be held in January next year.

The EC would declare the schedule any day after November 18, he said at a press conference at the commission’s Agargaon office in the capital following a meeting of the EC.

Talking to The Daily Star after the commission’s announcement, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “Ours is a democratic party and it is important for us to participate in elections. We have decided in principle to take part in all the elections to local government bodies.”

He, however, said it was impossible for the current EC to hold a free, fair and acceptable election. “They don’t have the ability to hold such an election.”

The BNP standing committee would make a final decision on joining the Dhaka city polls, Fakhrul said.

After the December 30 parliamentary election, the party boycotted the DNCC mayoral by-polls in February this year. It also did not participate in the upazila elections held between March and July, saying it did not see any prospect of a free and fair election.

The BNP even expelled some leaders and activists over contesting the upazila polls in violation of its decision.

The opposition party, however, contested the by-polls to Bogura-6 on June 24. It also participated in eight upazila elections on October 14.

AL READY FOR POLLS

The AL is ready to contest the two city polls. Its Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif said their organization, as a democratic party, always remains ready to contest any election.

“We are making preparations for contesting the polls to Dhaka city corporations,” he told this newspaper.

SM Faisal Chisti, a presidium member of Jatiya Party, said theirs is a pro-polls party. “We are preparing for the city polls. We will nominate candidates for the mayor and councillor posts.”

Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim, also a top leader of the Left Democratic Alliance (LDA), said they were yet to discuss the city elections.

Zonayed Saki, another LDA leader and also the chief coordinator of Ganosamhati Andolon, said his party would make a decision on contesting the elections only after its registration issue is settled by the EC.

“The High Court on June 26 had ordered the Election Commission to register our party within 30 days, but the commission is yet to comply with the order,” said Zonayed, who contested the last DNCC polls in 2015 as an independent mayoral candidate.

The LDA did not participate in the DNCC mayoral by-polls and upazila elections.

Asked about the registration of Ganosamhati Andolon, EC Senior Secretary Md Alamgir said they would soon take necessary measures in this regard after scrutinising the party’s documents submitted to the commission.

Tenures of the two city corporations will expire on May 11 and May 14 next year respectively.

According to the Local Government (city corporation) Act-2009, polls should be held within 180 days before the expiry of the tenure of an incumbent mayor. The tenure begins from the day of holding the first meeting of a city corporation.

The last polls to the two city corporations were held on April 28, 2015. The first meeting of the DNCC was held on May 12 and that of the DSCC on May 15 that year.

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