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Gazipur city polls: EWG finds violations at 46% of polling centres

  • Published at 08:50 am June 28th, 2018
  • Last updated at 07:38 pm June 28th, 2018
A polling agent marks the thumb of a voter before vote casting during the Gazipur City Corporation polls held yesterday Mehedi Hasan
File photo: A polling agent marks the thumb of a voter before vote casting during the Gazipur City Corporation polls held on TuesdayMehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

The ruling Awami League candidate won the polls held on Tuesday

Almost half of the polling stations experienced irregularities in the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) elections, the Election Working Group (EWG) said on Thursday. 

The EWG, an alliance of civil society organizations formed in 2006 with the goal of enhancing the transparency and accountability of elections and other democratic process in Bangladesh, said that it observed election violations in 46.5% of polling stations.

 “The EWG observed 159 incidents of election violations, at 46.5% of the polling stations where EWG observers were present. These violations were mostly observed in the afternoon,” said EWG Director Dr Md Abdul Alim at a press conference at the National Press Club on Thursday.

“The major types of violations as observed by EWG were ballot stuffing, campaigning within 400 yards of a polling station and presence of unauthorized persons inside polling stations. EWG found that the mean average voter turnout figure in polling stations observed was 61%,” he added. 

The EWG made the remarks after observing 129 polling stations (30.4%) out of a total 425 covering all 57 wards on the Election Day.  

The EWG members, who were trained for one full day before the election, monitored the poll preparations, opening of the polling stations, voting operations and the environment inside the polling stations, as well as the closing and counting of ballots.

EWG officials said that they had witnessed specific incidents of election violations in 60 polling stations. 

Voting in 12 observed polling stations was suspended due to violence, while nine of them were later reopened, they said at the press conference. 

“At approximately 11am, in a polling station in Word no 32, EWG observed that approximately five voters were not given the mayoral ballot paper. At around the same time, BNP polling agents were kicked out of the station,” the EWG officials said.

“In the same station, an EWG observer saw ballot stuffing at approximately 1pm and saw police taking lunch provided by a mayoral candidate,” they added.

During the programme, the EWG officials also brought up three more incidents as examples of election rule violations.

The group found that agents of the ruling party Awami League mayoral candidate at 96.9% of observed polling stations, BNP agents were present at 81.4% of observed polling stations. 

Prof Dr Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Md Abdul Awal and Md Harun-or-Rashid were present during the press conference, along with some other members of the EWG. 

According to the speakers, the GCC election was not as fair as the one held at Rangpur City Corporation, and they suggested the Election Commission be more active to overcome these problems in upcoming national election. 

EWG’s full report, along with a set of recommendations, will be submitted to the Election Commission, they said. 

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