AL will not give party nominations in local elections

Awami League

Awami League

During an urgent meeting of its central executive committee, the Awami League has decided not to field candidates under its 'boat' symbol in the upcoming upazila parishad elections. Party leaders will instead be free to run as independent candidates. This decision was made in a meeting chaired by AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Ganabhaban on Monday evening.

The Election Commission has announced that the first phase of the upazila parishad elections will begin in March and will occur in several stages. Election Commissioner Anisur Rahman informed the media on Monday that the Mymensingh City Corporation election and the Cumilla City Corporation by-election are scheduled for 9 March, alongside elections in some pourashavas. The upazila poll schedule will be declared following these elections.

Since the Local Government Election Act of 2015, political parties have been nominating candidates for various local government positions, including upazila and union parishad chairpersons, and mayors for pourashavas and cities, using their symbols.

According to sources at the AL's meeting, most leaders had a consensus against nominating party-affiliated candidates in local government elections, including the upazila parishads. They argued that allowing party leaders to run as independents in the recent national election led to divisions at the grassroots level and using the party symbol in upcoming local elections could exacerbate this division.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina agreed with this perspective, stating that for the time being, no party nominations will be given in local government elections and that elections will be more participatory with popular candidates likely to succeed. She mentioned that the party's nomination board would be informed about this decision. The leaders also expressed that voter turnout might increase without the allocation of the party symbol.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Hasina commented on the advice given by Western countries about election turnout, implying that an open election might lead to higher participation.

The decision to allow leaders to run as independents in the 12th parliamentary election, a move adopted after the boycott by BNP and other opposition parties, resulted in 58 independent candidates from the ruling party being elected. This experience influenced the current decision regarding local government elections. Further discussions on this approach were possible, particularly if the BNP decides to participate.

The meeting also addressed internal conflicts within the party, arising from the competition between party-nominated and independent candidates. Some leaders suggested a larger meeting to alleviate these tensions, but Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina advised against it in the current climate, instead urging party organizational leaders to actively work towards reducing the tensions before holding such a meeting.

Discussions also touched on whether the BNP would participate in the elections. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the BNP is welcome to join but they would not be actively invited.

Regarding international reactions to Bangladesh's elections, particularly from Western countries, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pointed out controversies in U.S. elections, such as the Bush-Gore presidential race and Donald Trump's refusal to concede to Joe Biden, questioning the basis for the U.S. to lecture Bangladesh on electoral matters.


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