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Dhaka city polls: BNP accuses AL of vote-rigging, demands re-election

  • Published at 08:46 am February 5th, 2020
The BNP-backed mayoral candidates and BNP General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir speak at a press conference at Emmanuelle's Convention Center in Dhaka's Gulshan 1 on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The BNP-backed mayoral candidates made the remarks at a post-election press conference

BNP accused Awami League of manipulating voting and occupying polling centres with their agents during the elections to Dhaka south and north city corporations.

Two defeated BNP-backed mayoral candidates --Tabith Awal and Ishraque Hossain-- arranged the press conference to give their formal reactions to the city corporation polls held on Saturday.

They presented two video documentaries containing the accounts of voters who failed to exercise their franchise and faced trouble while casting vote through electronic voting machines (EVMs). 

Addressing the program at a convention centre in Gulshan, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said: "The government has very systematically made the elections controversial. Now it is a matter of thought whether the mayors elected in the controversial polls, can take their responsibilities legally or not."

“It proves that a free and fair election can never be held under the present government and the Election Commission,” Fakhrul said, claiming: “Election (city corporation) should be held under a caretaker government.” 

“We would like to clearly say that people’s opinion was not reflected in the city polls and people could not cast their votes. So, we call for cancelling the results of the polls and holding a fresh election to the two city corporations,” Fakhrul said. 

He said the voter presence in the election was very low, as people have no confidence in the government and the Election Commission. 

The movement for democracy is not possible without Khaleda Zia’s leadership, he said. 

Ishraque claims the turnout was below 10%

Ishraque Hossain, who ran for the mayoral post in the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), said: "I visited many polling centres, and found those were occupied by the Awami League activists. 

The BNP-backed mayoral candidates and BNP General Secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir speak at a press conference at Emmanuelle's Convention Center in Dhaka's Gulshan 1 on Wednesday, February 5, 2020 | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune"The voter turnout was less than 10%. Therefore, the presiding officers were forced to exercise their authority to help cast additional votes with the EVMs." 

Claiming that there was no sign of ‘Sheaf of Paddy’ in some EVMs, Ishraque said: “I thought the ruling party would sense the pulse of the people and hold a free and fair election, and take initiatives for re-establish democracy, but they drove the country to darkness." 

Tabith demands EC to publish result transparently  

BNP’s Dhaka North City Corporation polls mayoral candidate Tabith Awal demanded the Election Commission transparently present all the information about the results of the city elections. 

He also said voters were not allowed to enter the polling station at the behest of senior Awami League leaders. “Attempts to control the voting centres were made by creating false voter lines and keeping ruling party activists there. The ruling party didn’t allow voters to come to the polling stations in a planned way in order to rig votes.” 

Mentioning that the ruling party brought its leaders from outside the capital to take control of polling centres, he said: "The ruling party used various tactics to ensure that voters do not go to polling centres. They created panic among the voters and barred them from standing in queues." 

Calling the election result as “fabricated”, he said: “There raised a question...why did we have to wait till 4:00 am to get the results... then how did the Awami League backed candidates meet the prime minister at 9:00 pm, announced themselves winners, and started a victory rally,” he said.

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