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Ministers denounce TIB report on nat’l polls

Staff Reporter:

Several important ministers of the government and key figures in the ruling Awami League (AL) on Thursday lambasted the Transparency International Bangladesh’s (TIB) recent report on the 12th general election terming it “biased and motivated”.

The TIB report is “one-sided and anti-government”, said AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, adding, “They (TIB) are agents of the BNP.”

Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud said informed quarters have questioned whether the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) published its report on the 7 January election in an effort to “give weapon” to anti-election and anti-democratic forces.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad Ali Arafat said the TIB did not follow any international criteria for making report on the 12th parliamentary election.

“The TIB speaks in the tune of BNP. History says that they were always against Awami League. They speak for BNP. We could not find impartiality of their research,” Quader said at a press briefing at the AL president’s office in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi.

“There are some organisations that talk about accidents. If a hundred die, they say five hundred died. The TIB is like them. The TIB and CPD had said that [building] Padma Bridge would not be possible. Filing a case doesn’t solve everything. Some are said for public perception. They will be dealt with politically,” he said.

Quader acknowledged the existence of political tactics and conflicts within parties, asserting, “Conflicts are inherent in politics, and Awami League navigates through them under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The party remains united in addressing challenges wherever they arise.”

Addressing upcoming local government elections, Quader said, “Decisions regarding local government elections, including upazila and the use of party symbols will be finalized in the Awami League board meeting.”

Meanwhile, speaking to the media at his ministry on Thursday, Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud said, “It seems that there is a similarity in terms of language between what the BNP says and what the TIB is saying. It is our expectation that TIB will not work as a supportive force for the anti-election and anti-democratic forces.”

The foreign minister hoped that the TIB will not turn into “a spokesperson for a group” and uphold its reputation without deviating from its neutral position.

The Awami League joint general secretary said he received several phone calls with questions about the TIB report.
Even though the TIB was supposed to do research on issues, in most cases they do not do any research, Hasan Mahmud claimed.

The foreign minister said the election was held in a festive atmosphere and international observers from the US, European Union, Commonwealth, OIC and others described it as “free and fair.”

He said it seems TIB came up with its report with refined remarks made by BNP leaders.

Hasan Mahmud said the Election Commission demonstrated a strong role with strict imposition of laws including cancellation of AL candidates and other measures.

“There was no appreciation of EC efforts in the TIB report,” he said.

At a press briefing at his office at secretariat on Thursday, State Minister for Information and Broadcasting Mohammad Ali Arafat said the TIB claimed that they randomly selected 50 constituencies out of 299 for the research, but the report has no reflection of the actual facts of the polling.

“In fact, the stakeholders gave their opinions, not information. There are many discrepancies between facts and opinions,” he said.

Arafat said this is a flawed research report and they did not mentioned how many polling centers or booths came for the research.

There were 42,350 polling centres and 2,61,565 polling booths across the country. TIB didn’t mention the found anomalies in how many booths. Rather they reached to their conclusion based on the opinions of people of 51percent constituencies, not voters of the booths.

“It is not possible to reach any conclusion in the way the TIB has followed and it would not be acceptable to any international forum,” he said.

Arafat said the persons who carried out the research works have no experience about the poll or political science.

The so-called research has crossed the limitation of scientific method, he said.

The state minister said the EC has taken steps against all irregularities against the persons irrespective of political affiliation. Even, he said, the EC has cancelled the candidacy of a candidate on the polling day which is unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh. But, the TIB didn’t appreciate the move in their so-called research, he said.

The 12th parliamentary election was a one-sided one that was staged to appear competitive,” the TIB has said in its report.

“It is an ominous sign regarding the future of democracy and democratic elections in Bangladesh,” said TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman at a press conference to share the findings of the anti-corruption watchdog’s study titled “The 12th Parliament Election Process Tracking.”

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