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Wednesday, February 27, 2008
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Local Govt Polls

Ministry, EC to discuss candidates' eligibility

LGRD Adviser Anwarul Iqbal will sit with the Election Commission (EC) in a week to finalise the criteria of ineligibility of candidates for local government elections with the EC preparing to hold city corporation polls in April.

While the EC is formulating electoral laws with specific clauses on ineligibility of candidates for elections at all levels, the LGRD ministry is making three separate sets of laws for elections to city corporations, municipalities and zila, upazila and union parishads that will also have similar clauses.

“I'll sit with the chief election commissioner (CEC) to see whether any of the clauses in the draft of three sets of laws clashes with that of the EC's,” the adviser told reporters at his office yesterday.

The common clauses on ineligibility bar people from contesting elections for a certain period of time since conviction in courts and termination from jobs on different charges including corruption, irregularities, moral turpitude and misbehaviour, and for holding any post in parliament or a local government, and any post of profit, sources mentioned.

Asked whether candidates will require a certain level of education for contesting local government elections, Anwarul Iqbal replied in the negative.

“Though I think it should be a requirement, there are some complexities since there is no mention of educational qualification in the constitution even for members of parliament. Since there is no parliament now, the constitution cannot be amended, and it will be conflicting if we introduce requirement of certain level of education for local government body candidates.”

Pointing out that the city corporation ordinance has been drafted, the adviser said, “Talks at secretary level has already taken place and I'll now sit with the CEC before finalising it. We'll discuss the two other sets of laws later.”

The adviser said the government has asked the EC to hold elections to 102 municipalities where polls will be due by June.

He however said the government has not 'imposed' any date for holding the elections. “It is the Election Commission which is mandated to decide it.”

Stressing the importance of strengthening the local government bodies both financially and organisationally, he said the draft of a law proposing formation of a local government commission to ensure independent functioning of these bodies has been finalised.

The government wants to form the commission before formulation of the three sets of laws on local government bodies 'since there are innumerable references to the commission in the proposed laws”, he said.

The draft laws will be placed before an inter-ministerial committee soon before sending those to the cabinet for approval.

“Once the commission is formed and the local government bodies can work independently, influence of the ministry on them would reduce to a great extent,” he said.

The commission will comprise a chairman and two members.

A five-member search committee, proposed to be headed by the CEC, will recommend three persons for the post of chairman of the commission, and the president will pick one.

“We've proposed the criteria that persons having experience of working for local government system can be on the commission,” said the adviser.

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