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CEC Huda promises firm, uncompromising stance for fair polls

nbAfter taking oath as the 12th chief election commissioner of Bangladesh, KM Nurul Huda has exhumed optimism about gaining the confidence of all the political parties by working impartially.

Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha administered the swearing-in of Huda and the four other election commissioners at the Supreme Court Judges’ Lounge on Wednesday.

The four new election commissioners are former secretary Rafiqul Islam, former additional secretary Mahbub Talukder, former district and sessions judge Kabita Khanam and former brigadier general Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has congratulated the new EC.

But the BNP, the chief opposition outside Parliament, has questioned the new CEC’s impartiality citing his involvement in 1996 Janatar Manch movement – an allegation Huda denies.

After the oath-taking ceremony, Huda, a former secretary, and his new colleagues went to the newly built EC headquarters Nirbachan Bhaban at Agargaon.

EC Secretary Muhammad Abdullah greeted them in office.

Later, speaking at a press conference on the lawn of the new building, the new CEC said, “We have taken the oath to discharge constitutional duties. We will be firm and uncompromising in doing so, going by the Constitution and the laws and rules outlined in it.”

On being asked, he said, “There is no scope for the government to influence constitutional jobs. We will do the constitutional duties impartially; So, we will not be influenced by anyone.”

Nurul Huda sought support and cooperation of the government, all the political parties and the media in discharging the duties.

“We are pledge-bound to do these functions with the experienced and sincere election commissioners,” he said.

This EC will start with some local government elections, but its primary task will be to organise the next parliamentary election by early 2019.

Political analysts see the 2019 elections as the biggest challenge for the new EC after the boycott of the 2014 election by the BNP, which is sceptical about the new CEC’s impartiality.

Mentioning the two main political parties, Huda said, “We will work to gain the confidence of all the political parties, including the Awami League and the BNP. I believe we will be able to do this through our work.”

Asked about the BNP’s allegation that he had links to the Awami League, Huda said, “I don’t have connections in any party. I was not involved in the election campaign of any party.”

He also vowed firmness to stop ‘unwarranted influence’ of the administration and law-enforcing agencies during elections.

The new election commissioners are scheduled to hit the ground after paying tribute to the Liberation War martyrs at the National Memorial in Savar on Thursday.

“Our first job is to identify and understand the problems and make a plan to resolve those through discussion,” the new CEC said.

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