The Election Commission has rejected the appeal filed by BNP chief Khaleda Zia after returning officers rejected her nominations for the coming parliamentary elections.
This means that the BNP chairperson will not be allowed to compete in the polls.
The BNP had hoped that the decision would be overturned on appeal, but the Election Commission announced on Saturday that it had rejected Khaleda’s petition.
The former prime minister still has the opportunity to challenge the matter before the court. However, the Supreme Court recently announced that no candidate sentenced to two or more years in prison will be allowed to run in the election.
This will be the first time the BNP will go to the polls without Khaleda Zia since she became the party chairperson three decades ago.
The 72-year-old was sentenced to prison in the Zia Orphanage Trust case in February. She received another prison sentence in the Zia Welfare Trust case.
Since then BNP lawyers have claimed that Khaleda would be able to compete in the 11th parliamentary election by appealing the trial court’s decision.
But several other BNP leaders have taken similar cases to the court and have been blocked from the election.
According to the High Court’s decision, under section 66 (2) (d) of the constitution, a nominee sentenced to two or more years in prison may not compete in elections unless their prison sentence is overturned and stayed by a higher court on appeal.
Another High Court justice gave a differing opinion in one case, but the Appellate Division blocked it.
Khaleda Zia had been chosen as a BNP nominee for the Feni-1, Bogura-6 and Bogura-7 seats. The returning officers for the three seats rejected her nomination on Dec 2.
Khaleda, who had boycotted the previous general election, had been elected from all three seats in 2008. The former prime minister had run from five different seats since the 1991 election and won all of them.
BNP leaders have claimed that the government officials who handled the applications had rejected her nomination under directions from the ruling Awami League.
BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi had expressed his hope that the EC would give them ‘justice’ by restoring Khaleda Zia’s nomination.
An appeal board led by Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda heard an appeal against the rejection at the EC offices on Saturday. Khaleda was represented by former Attorney General AJ Mohammad Ali.
After the hearing the EC said that it would announce its decision later on.
A delegation from the Awami League then visited the EC and warned them not to give in to pressure.
The EC then announced that it had rejected Khaleda Zia’s nominations for all three seats on Saturday evening.