Friday, February 2, 2007

Acting CEC and four Commissioners resigns

The acting chief election commissioner (CEC) and four other commissioners finally resigned following the footstep of Justice MA Aziz, and clearing the way for reconstitution of the Election Commission (EC, which tops the interim government’s agenda. Former additional secretary to cabinet division, M Anisuzzaman Khan, is likely to be appointed as the new CEC while a former brigadier general and a former district judge are likely to be appointed as election commissioners.

Their resignation came 10 days after Justice MA Aziz resigned from the post of chief election commissioner without giving any reason. A few of the resigning election commissioners did not agree to admit their failure as election commissioners. They also refused to comment on their resignation, saying Bangabhaban will announce the EC overhaul in a statement. A Bangabhaban press release on Wednesday night confirmed that the president accepted the resignation letters of five commissioners. None of the resigning commissioners disclosed anything about the content of their discussion with the president at Bangabhaban.

The caretaker government will now appoint a new CEC and two election commissioners to recast the EC, which will initiate steps including preparation of a voter list for holding the ninth parliamentary election. The interim government will immediately appoint three election commissioners, including a CEC, to form a new Election Commission, adding that the names of the new commissioners have been finalised and that the new Election Commission will take steps to bring changes to the electoral laws.

President Iajuddin Ahmed had appointed all the election commissioners: Justice MA Aziz as CEC on May 23, 2005, Zakaria and Mahfuz on January 16, 2006, and Mansur on August 31 last year--all on advice of the then BNP-led government. He then suddenly appointed Modabbir and Saiful on November 27 last year, keeping in dark and annoying the then council of advisers.
With six election commissioners, the Aziz-led EC became the largest one ever in the history of Bangladesh, but it completely failed to build people's confidence in it for holding a free and fair election. It failed to conduct the ninth parliamentary elections scheduled for January 22 and formally cancelled the election in line with a decision of the present caretaker government.

The council of advisers to the immediate past caretaker government headed by President Iajuddin Ahmed faced tremendous difficulties in reconstituting the EC as neither Aziz nor SM Zakaria agreed to resign. The BNP-led four-party alliance was also rigid against the resignation of the two commissioners appointed by the BNP government. Law Adviser Mainul Hosein yesterday said the resignation of the five commissioners will end all problems the EC recast has been facing.