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Amounts to complicity in corruption

THE Election Commission’s apparent unwillingness to post the wealth statements of upazila election candidates on its official website amounts to denial of the voters’ rights to make an informed choice and even complicity in corruption through concealment of facts. According to a report published in New Age on Wednesday, one of the commissioners claimed that returning officers had published the affidavits of the candidates on their wealth locally and that the commission would post these on its website if there was a legal binding. It is worth noting that section 4 of chapter 4 of the commission’s upazila election manual makes positing of the affidavits ‘on its official website’ along with their publication by returning officers. As such, it may not be far-fetched to conclude that the commission may be bending the rules that it itself has formulated.
It is perhaps not difficult to explain the commission’s reluctance to post the wealth statements of upazila election candidates online. It did cause serious embarrassment for the Awami League-led ruling elite by posting the wealth statements of candidates in the elections to the tenth Jatiya Sangsad in view of the astronomical increase in the wealth of several AL leaders. It is pertinent to recall that the Awami League was quick to send a delegation to the commission with the request for removal of the candidates’ wealth statements from the EC website. Intriguingly, accessing the wealth statements on the EC website had proved difficult, if not impossible, since the meeting between the AL delegation and the chief election commissioner.
It is thus safe to assume the commission does not want a repeat of the embarrassment for the ruling political elite, which could expose it to their wrath. Such assumption, suffice to say, appears well-founded in view of the commission’s repeated demonstrations of willingness to bent backward and yield to the whims and wishes of the Awami League and its allies. It is also safe to assume that, although its latest action lacks both moral and legal mooring, the commission is highly likely to seek refuge in technicalities to justify it.
In such circumstances, it is up to the democratically oriented and rights conscious sections of society to mobilise public opinion, and even take recourse to legal action, and thus force the commission’s hand into posting the wealth statements of upazila election candidates on its official website and helping the voters to make an informed choice.

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