Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has advised the Election Commission (EC) to propose legal reforms, if necessary, to the government for holding a free, fair and participatory general election.
"We have also asked the EC to ensure an equal level playing field for all competitors," said the anti-graft watchdog's Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman to reporters after a meeting with the Commission at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the capital's Agargaon on Monday.
Iftekharuzzaman said the EC can give advice to the government or the authorities concerned on the nature of the election-time government. If necessary, the Commission can propose legal reforms for that to happen.
"We urged the Commission to take measures so that the media and election observers can freely observe the election," he said.
"The media should be permitted to collect and publish information without any hindrance. We also asked the Commission to put up all information regarding polling centres on its website without delay," the TIB director said.
Regarding Electronic Voting Machines (EVM), he said that their technical aspects should be flawless and acceptable to all stakeholders.
After the meeting with the TIB, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal said, "The government is bound to co-operate with us whatever the law is. If there is violence during the parliamentary elections, we have the power to cancel the elections in all constituencies."
"I have repeatedly said that the election needs to be participatory. All political parties should come to the table for a constructive discussion rather than making critical comments on a daily basis," the CEC said.
Kazi Habibul Awal said, "I know that getting nominations from a political party is expensive and it puts a lot of pressure on the candidates for winning by any means necessary. But party top brass should realise that an election is not a trade and such a mindset needs to be changed. Only then will our democracy, electoral system and the present situation improve."
"The government that will be in power during the election is the election-time government. We have no comment on the demands being made by the opposition. The caretaker government is not our concern, but a constitutional matter," the CEC added.