Sushashaner Jonya Nagorik-Sujan, a non-government think tank works on polls, on Saturday suggested that a provision to deploy armed forces during parliamentary elections be included in the Representation of the People Order (RPO).
Sujan (Citizen for good governance) organised a press conference at the National Press Club to place a nine-point proposal over strengthening the Election Commission and the possible RPO amendment.
Addressing the conference, Sujan secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder said the armed forces should be included in the definition of law enforcing agencies in the RPO.
Sujan also suggested restoration of the ‘No Vote’ provision in the RPO, which was first included in 2008 and scrapped in 2009.
The NGO proposed empowering the EC so that it can cancel any election in the case of furnishing untrue and misleading information or hiding information in the affidavit by any winning candidate.
Sujan said the commission should be given the absolute power to postpone or cancel election on investigation in case of serious violation of laws and codes.
The five other proposals include using photographs of candidates alongside electoral symbols in ballot papers, introducing electronic filing system of nomination, and making it mandatory for the political party to pick its candidates from a three-member panel prepared in each constituency on the basis of opinions of its grassroots-level activists and leaders.
Sujan president M Hafizuddin Khan and its executive members Justice Kazi Ebaidul Haque, ASM Shahjahan and Dr Jafarullah Chowdhury, among others, spoke at the press conference.
On September 16, the cabinet approved the draft amendment proposal to the Representation of the People Order 1972.
Earlier, the Election Commission sent a set of proposals for bringing change in 28 clauses of the RPO, most of which got the cabinet nod.
The approved proposals include increasing the ceiling of election expenses for candidate from Tk 15 lakh to Tk 25 lakh and their security deposits from Tk 10,000 to Tk 20,000 and individual donations for political parties from Tk 5 lakh to Tk 10 lakh and organizational donations from Tk 25 lakh to Tk 50 lakh.
Dr Badiul Alam said the possible amendment to the RPO will not strengthen the constitutional body EC further.
Kazi Ebaidul Haque stressed the need for strengthening the constitution body EC with a view to holding fair and neutral elections.
“There’s nothing for the commissioners to be worried about because they’re discharging constitutional duties. They should take a stance with keeping their spines straight, or else, the nation won’t pardon them,” he said.