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4th phase of municipality polls: Voting ends amid sporadic violence, boycotts

  • Published at 09:00 am February 14th, 2021
Tanore Rajshahi fourth phase municipality polls
Voters queue up at a centre in Tanore of Rajshahi during the fourth phase municipality polls on Sunday, February 14, 2021 Dhaka Tribune

1 killed in Chittagong, several injured across Bangladesh

Voting of the 4th phase of the municipality polls ended on Sunday with sporadic reports of violence, boycotts, and occupancy of polling centres by Awami League men.

A man was killed in Chittagong and several others were injured in polls related violence across the country.

Balloting at 55 municipalities started at 8am and continued till 4pm without any breaks.

Electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used in 29 municipalities, while traditional ballot papers in the remaining 26 municipalities in the fourth phase polls, said SM Asaduzzaman, director (public relations) at the Election Commission Secretariat.

In the election, 55 mayors, 167 women councillors from the reserved seats, and 501 general councillors will be elected.

A total of 217 mayoral candidates, 618 women councillor contestants, and 2,070 general councillor contenders are in the electoral race, reports UNB.

Voter turnout, in most parts, was satisfactory as citizens were seemingly able to exercise their rights to franchise peacefully. 

However, there have been reports of clashes, vote-rigging, and polling centre domination leading to a boycott of the polls.

In Chittagong, a man was stabbed to death in election-related violence.

The deceased was identified as Abdul Mabud, 50.

According to sources, followers of two councillor candidates had a fierce clash over the municipality polls at the district’s Patiya.

The clash started around 12:30pm before the No 8 Dakshin Gobindarkhil Government Primary School polling centre under Patiya municipality between two councilor candidates – Abdul Mannan and Sarwar Kamal.

Confirming the matter to Dhaka Tribune, Patiya police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Rezaul Karim Majumder, said: “The supporters of two candidates clashed. On information, the police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.”

In Tangail, five people were injured when supporters of Awami League and BNP clashed during voting in Kalihati municipality.

Of those injured two are in critical condition, said Kalihati police station OC Saogatul Alam said: “They [Awami League and BNP supporters] resorted to violence to establish supremacy. 

“Now the situation in the area has returned to normal. The injured have been sent to the upazila health complex for treatment.”

Also Read - AL candidates, rebels dominate 3rd phase municipality polls

In Thakurgaon, crude bombs exploded near the Thakurgaon Mahila College voting centre.

According to reports, there were multiple incidents of obstruction, violence, and occupancy of polling centres in the municipality.

In Munshiganj, BNP candidate Mizanur Rahman boycotted the polls in Mirkadim municipality alleging ballot stuffing, among other irregularities.  

The BNP candidate, in a press briefing at around 3pm, claimed that ruling party men forced his agents out of the polling stations and stuffed ballots in favour of his opponent. 

He said that the local administration, despite repeated complaints, did not take any steps to stop the irregularities.

In Barisal, BNP candidate Riaz Uddin Ahmed and Awami League rebel candidate Ziaul Haque Mintu boycotted the polls alleging irregularities in the Banaripara municipality polls.

The two made the announcements at separate press conferences on Sunday afternoon.

In Chandpur, BNP mayoral candidate of Faridganj municipality boycotted the polls alleging irregularities and vote-rigging.

Meanwhile, in Bogra, 25 people, including four police officials, were injured when the supporters of the Awami League nominated candidate got into a fight with rebel candidate men on Saturday.

Two cases, accusing 109 people, were filed over the incident, confirmed Dhunat police station OC Kripa Sindhu Bala.

He said: “The incident occurred in Dhunat municipality. Two people have been arrested in this regard.” 

On January 3, the Election Commission announced the election schedule for 56 bodies in the fourth phase of the municipal polls.

Of the 56 municipalities, polls to Natore and Kalkini of Madaripur were postponed at the orders of the court and the Election Commission respectively, while the candidates in all posts of Parshuram of Feni were elected unopposed, finding no single contender against each post there.

But later two more municipalities – Sonaimuri of Noakhali and Trishal of Mymensingh — were incorporated in the election.

The election of 24 municipalities was held on December 28, 60 municipalities on January 16, and 62 municipalities on January 30.

The fifth phase of the election for 31 municipalities is scheduled to be held on February 28.

Anwar Hussain from Chittagong, Abdullah Al Numan from Tangail Zakir Mostafiz Milu from Thakurgaon, Nazmul Huda Nasim from Bogra, and Shamima Rita from Munshiganj contributed to this report

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