Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal has apologised for his sword-rifle remark that he made during a dialogue with the Nationalist Democratic Movement (NDM) on Sunday.
"There has been some confusion. I said the day before yesterday, if someone comes with a sword, you stand with a rifle. You must understand that a chief election commissioner can never say this seriously. It was a joke," he said after the Election Commission's (EC) dialogue with the Islami Oikya Jote on Tuesday morning.
"Sometimes we make mistakes. Sorry for that. I went for humour. I didn't mean it. Please forgive and excuse me for that," the CEC said.
When the topic came up again in the dialogue with the Bangladesh Khilafat Majlish in the afternoon, Habibul Awal said, the statement is being distorted in the media, undermining his dignity.
"I have explained it time and again. The problem is – the way my speech was presented in the newspaper. It should never be considered a speech. We laugh at times and you do too. I am sorry for that," he said.
"We have given free access to the media. I was a secretary in the ministry earlier. Meetings are always confidential. A spokesperson discloses the outcome of the meeting later," he said.
"But the way our speeches are being distorted makes us rethink the media access to EC meetings. I am suffering social humiliation, and the Election Commission is also suffering for that," Habibul Awal said.
Meanwhile, in the dialogue, Bangladesh Khilafat Majlis has requested the release of Hefazat-e-Islam leader Mamunul Haque.
"Our leaders are in jail. How would they participate in dialogue if they are in jail? We want your support for the release of all leaders including Mamunul Haque," said Khilafat Majlish Acting Secretary General Maulana Jalaluddin Ahmed.
In response to this demand, CEC Habibul Awal said, "You have a lot of grudges. We admit it. We sympathise with you on this matter. Whether there is anything we (EC) can do about it or not, I can't say anything at the moment."
He also advised that if the party feels that its leaders are being illegally imprisoned then the activists should speak up and appeal to the government for their release.
On 18 April 2021, police arrested Mamunul Haque from Jamia Rahmania Arabia Madrasah in Mohammadpur in separate cases.
The EC held a dialogue with the Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal (M-L) on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite being a member of the ruling 14-party coalition, the party's Secretary General Dilip Barua in the dialogue alleged that in the last two (2014 and 2018) elections, there had been disruptions in the exercise of people's voting rights and peaceful transfer of power.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Kalyan Party is the second party to boycott the dialogue with the EC. Earlier Bangladesh Muslim League boycotted the dialogue.
Although the Commission's dialogue with BNP was scheduled for Tuesday, the party confirmed that it will not attend.
Earlier on Sunday, the EC started holding dialogues in phases with the country's 39 registered political parties on the upcoming national election.