During Sunday's presidential talks, the Gono Forum demanded that a law be framed over the formation of the Election Commission (EC) in line with the Constitution, while Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, lending its support for a search committee, proposed three names for it.
In the evening, a seven-member delegation led by Mokabbir Khan, executive president of the Gono Forum, taking part in a dialogue at Bangabhaban, said that the party wanted that a law be enacted to form and reorganise the EC in light of the Constitution, keeping the spirit of independence, democracy and the liberation war intact.
At the same time, they demanded regulations be formulated to ensure a non-partisan and neutral role of government institutions, including the public and police administrations, Mokabbir said.
Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh Presidium member and spokesperson Mahi B Chowdhury said, "We think it is important to have a law for the formation of the Election Commission. The president agreed with us in this regard, but such an important law should not be enacted in such a short time. It will not reflect the hopes and aspirations of the people."
He said that they mentioned forming a search committee as an alternative, adding that they had proposed three names for it: former advisor to a caretaker government Rokeya Afzal Rahman, former cabinet secretary Mohammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and eminent academic Prof Dr Muhammad Zafar Iqbal.
The Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh's seven-member delegation was led by its Secretary General Abdul Mannan.
The search committee will be tasked with making a list of a potential chief election commissioner and other election commissioners.
The BNP, Gono Forum (Mostafa Mohsin Montu-led faction), Communist Party of Bangladesh, the Socialist Party of Bangladesh and Islami Andolan have said the dialogue will not yield any fruitful result.
Boycotting the talks, the BNP on Saturday said the crisis was not over the EC formation but rather over a polls-time government.
"The 12th national election will be pointless if it is held under the ruling Awami League. There must be a polls-time interim government, which will constitute an EC to conduct the national election," BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told journalists.
Similarly, Islami Andolon Saturday put forward a seven-point charter of demands, including the call for a polls-time government.
Till date, 10 of 16 political parties, who were invited in the first phase, have joined the talks.
The president started the dialogue on 18 December with the Jatiya Party, the main opposition in the parliament.
He is scheduled to hold talks with 31 out of 39 political parties registered with the EC before appointing the chief election commissioner (CEC) and other commissioners.
The president has to form a new EC before the expiration of the tenure of the existing commission on 14 February, 2022. The new EC will conduct the next national election.
With the polls-time caretaker government abolished in 2011 by a constitutional amendment, the last two national elections were held under the ruling Awami League.
In both instances, registered political parties joined the EC formation talks and proposed names for it, though many of them later raised allegations of vote-rigging in subsequent national polls.
The tenure of the current EC will end on 14 February this year and the new one, according to the constitution, will have to be appointed before that date. The new commission will hold the next general election in December 2023 or early 2024.