Bangladesh will hold general elections on December 23 and will use electronic voting machines on a limited scale for the first time, the Dhaka Tribune reported. The country’s Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda announced the date on Thursday and set November 19 as the deadline to submit nominations.
The dates were announced even as the government and the opposition alliance remained at loggerheads over the timing of the polls. While the opposition Jatiya Oikya Front had repeatedly urged the election panel to defer the schedule, the ruling Awami League asked it to go ahead.
Around 104.2 million citizens will vote to elect 300 representatives to the parliament.
“The proper environment to organise the polls has been created, [so] I urge all political parties to resolve all disputes or differences of opinions among themselves and participate in the polls,” Huda said. “There is a constitutional obligation to hold the election before January 28, 2019. The countdown has already started.”
Huda said the election commission will use 1,50,000 electronic voting machines in 100 “randomly selected voting centres” in urban constituencies. “The voters have already been informed about the EVMs’ benefit and they have shown interest,” he said. “We believe using EVMs will raise the standard of the election and save time, money and man-hours.”
The Jatiya Oikya Front has also been demanding the release of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief Khaleda Zia, who is currently serving a prison sentence, BDNews24 reported. Last month, the former prime minister was sentenced to jail for 10 years in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case. As a result, she will be unable to contest the general elections.