Deaths caused by violence during campaigns mar the local government polls
The second phase of municipality elections across Bangladesh is set to be held on Saturday.
Elections were supposed to be held in 61 municipalities in the second phase, but polls in Syedpur municipality under Nilphamari district were put on hold following the death of a mayoral candidate.
The Election Commission has completed all necessary preparations to hold the polls. Voting is scheduled to begin at 8am and will continue till 4pm.
Electronic voting machines (EVM) will be used in 28 municipalities.
The first phase of the local government polls were held on December 28 last year, in 24 municipalities.
In third and fourth phases, elections will be held in 64 and 56 municipalities, on January 30 and February 14, respectively.
The second phase of the elections is taking place amid tension as rebel candidates who refused to quit the race have turned out to be a pain in the neck for the ruling party.
The Awami League has changed its candidate for Narsingdi municipality polls slated for February 14. It replaced Ashraf Hossain Sarker, former president of district Jubo League unit, with Amzad Hossain Bacchu, general secretary of Narsingdi city unit of the party.
Speaking about the rationale behind the change, the party general secretary, Obaidul Quader, said the previous candidate had a legal allegation against him.
Several incidents of violence centring the polls have taken place during the election campaigns in several municipalities since Tuesday. At least two people involved with the polls were killed as of Friday, while many others sustained injuries.
The situation has caused panic among the voters in different municipalities.
At least 10 people, including the wife of an independent mayoral candidate and a journalist, were injured in a clash between the supporters of the Awami League-nominated mayoral candidate and a rebel candidate in Bhedarganj municipality of Shariatpur on Friday.
The BNP, on the eve of the Phase II of the elections, alleged that the homes of the supporters of the party’s mayoral candidate Nurul Millat for Kishoreganj’s Kuliarchar were raided to drive them away from the area.
On Thursday night, two supporters of Awami League candidate Shahiduzzaman Shahid were hacked at and injured reportedly by supporters of rebel candidate Mayor Muktar Ali in Rajshahi’s Arani municipality.
The injured are Bajlur Rahman, 45, general secretary of Ward 4 of the municipality, and his nephew Arif Hossain, 30. Both of them were taken to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital immediately. Arif was later shifted to the ICU when his condition worsened.
Earlier on the same day, councillor candidate Alamgir Hossain Babu was found dead five hours after a clash between his supporters and a rival candidate left another dead in Shailkupa upazila, Jhenaidah.
A day earlier, a clash broke out between the supporters of Babu and candidate Shawakt Ali, which left Ali’s brother Liakat dead in the same locality.
In Barguna municipality, at least three people were injured on Thursday when the supporters of a mayor aspirant attacked the followers of the Awami League nominee.
At least 20 people got injured in a clash between the supporters of the two councillor candidates in Noapara area of Narayanganj on Tuesday evening. Vehicles were vandalized and set ablaze during the clash as well.
Obaidul Quader, who is also the road transport and bridges minister, assured on Friday that the government would extend all-out support to the Election Commission to help them hold the polls in a peaceful and fair manner.
All set for polls
The Election Commission said all preparations have been made to hold fair and neutral polls to the municipalities.
A sufficient number of law enforcement officials and magistrates are in place to ensure the elections are held properly, said Election Commission Joint Secretary SM Asaduzzaman.
Mobile strike forces will patrol the centres. Members of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), police and Bangladesh Ansar have been deployed in key areas other than the polls centres, he added.
In addition, restrictions have been imposed on vehicular movement in the electoral areas, the election official said.
A total of 221 mayoral candidates, 745 councillors for reserved seats and 2,320 councillors in the general seats are contesting in the second phase of the municipality polls.
The municipalities are Sandwip in Chittagong, Kazipur, Belkuchi, Ullapara, Sadar and Rayganj in Sirajganj, Mohonganj and Kendua in Netrokona, Kushtia Sadar, Kumarkhali, Bheramara and Mirpur in Kushtia, Kulaura and Kamolganj in Moulvibazar, Tarabo in Narayanganj, Shariatpur Sadar, Nageshwari in Kurigram, Sundarganj and Sadar in Gaibandha, Sadar, Birampur and Birganj in Dinajpur, Nazipur in Naogaon, Bhangura, Faridpur, Santhia, Ishurdi and Sujanagar in Pabna, Arani, Bhabaniganj, Kakanhat in Rajshahi, Sunamganj Sadar, Chhatak and Jagannathpur in Sunamganj, Madhabpur and Nabiganj in Habiganj, Boalmari in Faridpur, Fulbaria and Muktagacha in Mymensingh, Magura Sadar, Savar in Dhaka, Naldanga, Gurudaspur and Gopalpur in Natore, Sherpur, Sariakandi and Santahar in Bogra, Pirojpur Sadar, Gangni in Meherpur, Shailkupa in Jhenaidah, Khagrachhari Sadar, Lama in Bandarban, Dhanbari in Tangail, Chandina in Comilla, Daganbhuiyan in Feni, Kishoreganj Sadar and Kuliarchar in Kishoreganj, Monohardi in Narsingdi, Basurhat in Noakhali and Mongla in Bagerhat.