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Thursday, January 29, 2015, Magh 16, 1421, Robi-Us-Sani 7, 1436 Hijr

EC plans DCC polls by June
Published : Thursday, 29 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 73

Mohosinul Karim
Despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's directive to take steps for holding polls in the bifurcated Dhaka City Corporations within the first quarter of this year, the Ministry of Local Government is yet to complete disposal of demarcation disputes and publish the gazette of the electoral periphery of the two city corporations.
Though the Ministry is not ready, the Election Commission (EC) has already begun its preparation to hold the long overdue elections to the bifurcated Dhaka city corporations by June.
The EC, in a letter sent to the Ministry of Finance recently, sought an increase in this fiscal year's budgetary allocation for election expenses by Tk45 crore, bringing it to Tk95 crore.
After the initiative of the EC, the Ministry of Local Government has also started its movement to dispose demarcation disputes of electoral periphery talking with the parties that filed cases against the electoral process. Hopefully, it would be completed by February, the high officials of the Ministry told.
The elections to the city corporations that was scheduled to be held on May 24 in 2012 was deferred earlier following a writ petition, which was filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh saying that the EC must update the voter lists of the DCC (north and south) as per the electoral rules.
The HC stayed the process for holding the polls for not completing the legal procedures on April 16 in 2012. The stay order was extending thrice in the intervening months, with the last extension made in January, 2013.
EC Secretary Sirajul Islam wrote to the Ministry of Finance that the voter list might be finalised by January 31. The disputes over the demarcation of North and South Dhaka city corporations would be solved by March. Considering the situation the election schedule will hopefully be announced by end of March or early April. So, the EC will need the financial arrangements for holding the polls.
When contacted, Senior Secretary of the Local Government Division, Monzur Hossain, told The Daily Observer on Wednesday, "The EC can start electoral process as they are the sole authority to hold the polls. The government will help the EC, if they need."
"The Ministry is working to solve the demarcation disputes of North and South of the Dhaka City Corporation. It may take a month more. It's expected the problem would be solved by February. The gazette notification will be issued after finalising the demarcation and will be sent to the commission later," he added.
He said the commission will announce the election schedule after getting the gazette in hands. Since November 2011, both North and South Dhaka city corporations have been administered by government appointed administrators.
The Prime Minister ordered the officials concerned to take steps for holding the much awaited DCCs polls by March this year without extending the tenure of administrators at a Cabinet Meeting held on December 8, 2014.
The Cabinet also rejected a proposal for extending the tenure of appointed administrators of the two Dhaka city corporations from six months to one year for which an amendment to the Local Government (City Corporation) Act was required.
Though the ruling Awami League and main opposition in parliament, Jatiya Party (JP) welcomed the step of the PM, BNP termed it as a plot for diverting the attention of the citizens to other directions.
Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad told that though the EC is ready to hold polls of Dhaka city corporations, they will need time to start electoral process as voter's lists are being updated.
He said, "The date of public examinations will also be considered. It will need at least 45 days to hold polls from the announcement of the election schedules."
Earlier, the EC discovered faults in demarcation surrounding Sultanganj's inclusion in Ward No. 57 of DCC South. Due to these complications, the EC refrained from holding DCC polls scheduled on May 24 in 2012.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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