The ruling Awami League picked around 50 new faces to run for the upcoming parliamentary polls and dropped 38 sitting MPs as it handed out nomination letters to its aspirants for 248 constituencies. The party said it has kept some 70 seats for allies including Jatiya Party, the main opposition in the current parliament. The final decision may come the next day, according to partry general secretary Obaidul Quader. But then when the next day came, the same Quader withdrew from the position, putting off any announcement till after the scrutiny of nominations by the authorities. Was it a sign of nervousness? Probably- something had obviously not gone as expected.

The party had earlier announced that it would nominate its own candidates for 230 seats. The extra 18 Nomination letters were distributed for "strategic reasons". Some of the the selections came as a shock to many as some 38 incumbent lawmakers, including AL joint general secretaries Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Abdur Rahman, and organising secretaries AFM Bahauddin Nasim and BM Mozammel Haque, were left out apparently due to controversy and internal feuds.

Following two days of marathon distribution, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said his party had initially picked 800 candidates for the 11th parliamentary election scheduled for December 30. Fakhrul said this at a press conference after completing distribution of the nomination letters among the party aspirants at Khaleda Zia's Gulshan office. The BNP picked two candidates for almost every constituency as it started handing out nomination letters to aspirants for 240 seats. In nominating candidates, the BNP apparently gave priority to those who had contested the national elections in 2001 and 2008 on party ticket. q

Meanwhile, the High Court observed that a convict sentenced to more than two years in jail cannot contest the election, even if an appeal is pending. It said the convict can only run for candidacy after a five-year term after completion of the jail term. Earlier in the day, the HC bench rejected the petitions filed by former BNP state minister and its chairperson's adviser Aman Ullah Aman, its doctor-leader Dr AZM Zahid Hossain, Khagrachhari district BNP president and former lawmaker Wadud Bhuiyan, Jhenaidah BNP president and former lawmaker from Jhenaidah-2 constituency Md Mashiur Rahman and former lawmaker from Jhenaidah-1 constituency Md Abdul Wahhab.

Putting an end to all speculation, the Election Commission announced that electronic voting machines will be used across all centres in 6 constituencies - around 900 centres in all - in the upcoming parliamentary election. The Election Commission selected the six constituencies - Dhaka-6, Dhaka-13, Chattogram-9, Rangpur-3, Khulna-2 and Satkhira-2 by lottery in the presence of journalists and EC Secretary Helaluddin Ahmed in the capital's Nirbachan Bhaban early this week.

It had decided to pick one constituency each from Dhaka south, north, and Chattogram city corporation areas, two seats from other city corporation areas, and one seat with a district town. Helal Uddin said they had full preparation to use EVMs in the six constituencies. "We will get an adequate number of EVMs by November 30.""We will get an adequate number of EVMs by November 30."

Despite strong opposition from almost all parties except Awami League, the EC in a meeting decided to use EVMs in six constituencies.

The government agencies will soon start monitoring social media sites, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, round-the-clock to check any "smear campaign" ahead of the December 30 parliamentary election. The Election Commission took the decision during a meeting with Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission and mobile operators.

Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed disclosed the matter while talking to reporters after the meeting at the Nirbachan Bhaban in the capital's Agargaon.

"They [different government agencies] assured us of monitoring social media sites after we asked them to do so for preventing propaganda. BTRC, NTMC [National Telecommunication Monitoring Centre] and cyber crimes unit will keep a watch on the social media sites 24 hours a day," he said.

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