Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal has said if BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia wants to participate in the forthcoming 12th national election, its legal aspects will be looked into.
In response to questions from journalists on whether Khaleda Zia, who has been convicted of corruption, can take part in the next polls due either in December next year or in January 2024, the CEC said, "We know nothing about this as yet. So, I do not want to comment on this.
"Whoever wants to participate in elections, we will verify the matter in light of the law. We have some legal framework. If anyone wants to take part in elections, they must do so within that framework. Everything will be done according to the law. I cannot say anything in advance now," he continued as he was speaking to the media after observing polling at several municipalities from the Nirbachan Bhaban in the city Wednesday (2 November).
Recently, the matter of Khaleda Zia's participation in elections has come to the fore through statements of the law minister and Khaleda's lawyers.
Khaleda Zia's lawyers told the media that she would participate in the 12th general election. At the same time, political cases against the BNP chief would be settled through political movement, they added.
In the 2018 general election, Khaleda filed nomination papers to contest from Feni-1, Bogura-6, and Bogura-7 constituencies.
The returning officers rejected the nomination papers citing her conviction in graft cases.
Later, when an appeal was made against the decision of the returning officers, it was also rejected by the then KM Nurul Huda-led commission.
Regarding the upazila and union parishad polls held on Wednesday, the CEC said, "We did not witness any instances of violence, disorder, vote theft, or rigging. We did not receive any such complaints either.
"We monitored elections in four municipalities from here. We did not find any disorder in the polling centres and adjacent areas. A large number of people stood in queues and cast their votes in an orderly manner."
This is a good sign, he observed, adding that if this culture can be maintained, then voters will feel encouraged to go to vote in the future.
"There is a voting environment and that is what our intention is," he added.
When asked about the probe report over the Gaibandha by-polls, the CEC said, "We received the report two days ago. We could not sit with that yet. So, I cannot say anything now. It has to be seen separately. We have to discuss this among ourselves later."