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EC not yet published wealth of candidates

Taib Ahmed

The Election Commission has not published online the wealth statements of upazila polls candidates in breach of a electoral law that provisions for the publication of wealth statements of candidates as there was a furore over the wealth statements of lawmakers who contested the national polls.
According to the upazila election manual, the returning officers will publish affidavits on wealth statements of candidates for voters concerned so that they could vote for better candidates.
The manual also says that the commission can take help of the mass communications department in the publication of wealth statements  of candidates.
‘The commission shall also publish the affidavits on its official web site,’ reads Section 4 of the 4th chapter of the manual.
The commission has not published yet the affidavits on its web site although the commission is holding elections to 98 upazila councils on February 19 in the first phase.
Four hundred and thirty-two candidates are running for the positions of chairman in the first phase of the elections while the number of vice-chairmen candidates is 513 and the number of woman vice-chair candidates is 329.
Even the commission in its 7th circular on the first phase upazila elections on February 4 asked returning officers to send affidavits of the candidates to the commission as early as possible.
The circular also asked the returning officers to make affidavits public.
Asked why the commission has not published the affidavits in the upazila elections, commissioner Shah Nawaz told New Age that returning officers had published the affidavits locally.
Asked why the commission has not put the affidavits on its web site the way it did during the national elections, Nawaz said that the commission would publish it on its web site if there was a legal binding.
New Age correspondents from outlying districts reported that the returning officers had not published the affidavits for voters although people who were  interested could have a glimpse of the affidavits kept with offices of returning officers.
The secretary of civic group Citizens’ for Good Governance Badiul Alam Mazumder told New Age that his organisation had sought the affidavits from the commission but the commission refused to provide him with the affidavits.
‘Although the commission is legally bound to publish the affidavits, it is not doing so,’ he added.
In accordance with the electoral law, the commission published affidavits of candidates in the general elections, which took place on January 5, which showed an unusual increase in wealth of ministers and ruling party lawmakers.
Abnormal increase in the wealth of the then ministers and lawmakers was hugely criticised by groups and right activists that prompted the Awami League to informally request the commission to remove the statements from the commission web site.
People at one point did not have the access to the commission’s web site  which the commission said was because of ‘a technical glitch.’

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