As many as 199 private organisations have applied to the election commission (EC) to register their names as election observers. The organisations succeeding in getting registered with the EC will have the chance to observe the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections. This registration will be valid for the next five years.
According to the EC sources, some 199 organisations have applied for registering as election observing agencies within 2 February, the last day for submitting the application.
A seven-member committee, formed by the EC, are now verifying the applications primarily. The work is in the final stage. Almost half of the applications are likely to be discarded during the primary verification.
A 15-day time will be given to the organisations after the preliminary verification in case they have any objection to the verification process. Following the end of the hearing of the objections, the commission will finalise the list of organisations to get registered as election observers.
The registered agencies will be able to watch the national and local government elections to be held in the next five years. In that case, the agencies will have to apply to the commission for permission to observe the election after the declaration of the election schedule. The local organisations cannot observe any polls without registering with the EC.
According to the plan of action announced by the EC ahead of the next national polls, the list of local election observer agencies will be finalised by August this year.
A total of 118 organisations are now registered with the EC as election observers. The validity of their registration will end on 11 July this year. Of the 118, some 40 organisations have applied for registration this year again. Applications of the agencies that didn’t monitor any poll in the last five years despite being registered with the EC will be cancelled.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, election commissioner Md Alamgir said, “We are verifying the applications for registering as local observers of elections. The registration process will be completed on time.”
EC sources say most of the organisations applied for registration as election observers are district level private development organisations.
Certain factors will be taken into consideration before registering an agency such as the observer agency must be registered under a law of the country, the agency must be non-partisan and politically neutral and any person involved in politics or have plan to contest in any election in future cannot a be a member of the governing body of any election observing organisation.
The registration of local election observers was introduced before the 9th parliamentary election in 2008. It was included in the election-related law – The Representation of the People Order. The EC developed a policy for the local election observers.
The EC registered a total of 138 agencies as election observers for the first time in 2008. Some 159,113 observers from 75 organisations monitored the 9th general election. However, the local and foreign observers had the opportunity to monitor the polls before the general election in 2008 as well. Around 218,000 observers from 69 organisations monitored the 8th parliamentary election while 81 local agencies monitored the general election in 2018.
Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar told Prothom Alo, “The observers work as the eyes and ears of the EC. They are the supporting power of the EC. Therefore, only the neutral organisations should be registered with the EC, not the biased ones.”