Bangladesh's controversial Chief Election Commissioner MA Aziz may be replaced by a new team that will be directed to update voters' list and conduct elections next January, a move likely to placate the Awami League-led alliance that has been questioning commissioner's authority and threatening agitation on the issue.
An overwhelming opinion among his team of advisers has compelled President-cum-Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed to seek legal opinion on making changes in officers appointed under the constitution.
Aziz, a retired judge, may be asked to resign, since the interim government's action of sacking him could trigger fresh controversy, The Daily Star newspaper said after talking to a number of advisers in the government.
Ahmed sent two of his advisers, CM Shafi Sami and Sultana Kamal, to meet Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina with a message that steps were being initiated to reconstitute the Election Commission.
Removal of Aziz and the other two election commissioners has been on the top of an 11-point agenda of the Hasina-led alliance.
However, this has been opposed by Hasina's rival Khaleda Zia, who quit as prime minister last week. She has called the move "illogical".
Aziz, who took office in May 2005 has courted controversies from the very beginning of his term.
He locked horns with the other two election commissioners on the question of updating the voters' list.
The list he got prepared was challenged and struck down as illegal by the Supreme Court.
Later, Aziz defied the apex court's directive to revise the voters' list and published it amidst protests from the Awami League-led alliance.
He also engaged in repartees with the media on many occasions in the recent months, asking them to "learn journalism".
Yet, the constitutional position he holds brought him close to being appointed Chief Adviser. Hasina shot down the proposal and insisted on his removal from the post.
"The Election Commission's responsibility is like that of a referee. A referee cannot have the moral right to stay in the job if the playing teams do not want him," Adviser Akbar Ali Khan said after a meeting with the president, convened to get the sense of his team on the issue.
At the president's instance, two advisers, CM Shafi Sami and Sultana Kamal, met Hasina late on Thursday evening, media reported.
Following the meeting to discuss the possibility of the removal of the Chief Election Commissioner, the Awami League 'softened' its ultimatum ending Thursday for tough action.
The Awami League will wait for another week for the implementation of its demands, party sources said.
"We have been told from the council of advisers that effective steps have been taken for reconstitution of the Election Commission," Awami League general secretary Abdul Jalil said after his meeting with Shafi Sami and Sultana Kamal.
According to The Daily Star, all the advisers have expressed a common sentiment that the Election Commission should be reconstituted to remove all negative images that overshadowed its credibility.
The advisers' council met again on Thursday night to discuss ways to make the Election Commission effective but could not arrive at a decision.
The advisers found it difficult to reconstitute it because of some constitutional barriers.
A few of the advisers even said at the second meeting of the advisers' council Thursday that the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the other election commissioners "have lost the moral right to stay in their offices," the newspaper said.