Transparency International Bangladesh, widely known as TIB, has expressed surprise and dismay at Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal's statement – standing with a rifle or a sword against a sword – which he made yesterday, in the first session of a 15 day series of meetings with political parties concerning the next national election.
The Bangladesh branch of the Berlin-based Transparency International, in a press release yesterday evening, called for the immediate withdrawal of a suicidal statement like this that incites violence.
"Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal, in a dialogue with the Nationalist Democratic Movement party said 'if all political parties do not cooperate, you will fail there. You [political parties] should have a concerted effort: if someone stands with a sword, you should stand with a rifle or another sword. If you run, what do I do?'" the TIB release said, citing media reports of what the CEC said.
Protesting the CEC's statement, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman, in the release, said The Election Commission is a constitutional institution and its head is responsible for arranging transparent and participatory elections and ensuring a level playing field for all.
"Whereas such a violence-supporting speech from any citizen is criminal, such a speech from the chief election commissioner is suicidal, irresponsible, and unacceptable," he said, adding that it also encourages the anarchy of using election-centric muscle power, occupying booths, or stuffing ballot boxes without allowing people to vote.
"TIB hopes the chief election commissioner will withdraw the statement."