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EC in dilemma over differences between AL, allies

Taib Ahmed

The differences between the ruling Awami League and its coalition partners over sharing parliamentary seats reserved for women has created an unprecedented dilemma for the  Election Commission.
AL in a letter informed the EC on Sunday that it had formed an alliance with Workers Party, JSD faction-led by Inu, Jatiya Party-led by Anwar Hossain Manju, Bangladesh Tariqat Federation and the newly formed Bangladesh Nationalist Front to proportionately share the seats reserved for women.
But Workers Party in a letter on January 25 informed the EC that it would form no alliance over the reserved for women.
Workers’ Party politburo member Quamrul Ahsan told New Age there was no change in the party’s position on the issue.
On Sunday, Inu-led JSD informed the EC that it had formed alliance with AL, Workers’ Party, Manju faction of JP,  Tariqat Federation and BNF and 10 independent MPs on the reserved seats issue.
In a separate move, independent MP Mohammad Selim, better known as Haji Selim, informed the EC that the group of 16 independent MPs formed an alliance for the elections in the reserved seats.
He also requested the EC to allocate three woman seats for the independent group of MPs.
The conflicting positions taken by the parties in the ruling coalition has created a dilemma for the EC on how to split and allocate the reserved seats among them.
Asked by reporters how the issue would be resolved a three-member AL delegation led by ABM Reazul Kabir Kawsar, said that the AL had given its letter to the EC after reaching a consensus with its coalition partners.
The AL delegation had just submitted the list of MPs in the AL-led alliance to the EC secretary Muhammed Sadique.
The 50 women MPs in the reserved seats are elected by MPs.
The EC has to hold the elections to the reserved seats within 90 days from the publication of the general election results in the official gazette.
The law stipulates splitting the 50 reserved seats MPs among the parties  proportionate to their  strength in Parliament.
According to its strength the AL-led alliance can claim at least 41 women MPs, the Ershad faction JP is entitled to get at least five while the Independent group ought to get two.
Sunday was the last day of 21 days given by the electoral law to the parties or groups to inform the EC whether or not they would form alliance for the polls in the reserved seats.
The 21days are counted from the publication of the results of parliamentary elections in the official gazette.
Asked for his comments on the issue,  the EC secretary told New Age that the commission has to look for resolving the confusion.
‘We only received the letters from the parties today. We will look into the matter,’ he added.
Earlier, election commissioner Shah Nawaz told reporters that the date for the elections in the reserved seats would be announced this week.

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