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Fourth-phase UZ polls held sans major incidents

SFTAFF REPORTER, Dhaka with our CORRESPONDENTS

Just like the three previous phases of the fifth local body elections, the fourth-phase upazila parishad (UZ) elections were held by and large peacefully barring some stray incidents. A thin voter turnout, as in the past three phases, marked the fourth phase as well. After completion of the voting process, the Election Commission (EC) said the fourth phase of the UZ polls were held in a free, fair and peaceful manner. The commission also claimed that the voter turnout in the elections might be 40-45 per cent.

Voting started at 8am and continued until 4pm without any break. Vote counting was on till the filing of this report yesterday evening. The fourth-phase election was held to 107 upazilas under 22 districts. According to the EC, voting was not needed to 39 upazilas for the chairman positions, while voting to another 15 upazilas was not needed for chairman, vice-chariman and female vice-chairperson posts as candidates were elected uncontested.

At least 12 people, including two election officials, were detained due to their alleged involvement in election irregularities in the fourth-phase polls.

Voting was suspended in several polling stations following the allegations of huge irregularities. Some independent

candidates boycotted the polls following election irregularities in their respective upazilas. Besides, the commission suspended balloting at all polling stations of Titas upazila of Cumilla following the allegations of ballot stuffing at several polling stations.

After starting voting, some supporters of AL-nominated candidate Shahinur Islam Sohel tried to grab the Ziarkandi primary school polling station and opened fire at the supporters of his rival independent candidate, who is also an AL local leader. Members of law enforcement agencies also opened fire to bring the situation under control. Later, balloting was suspended at the centre. Vote rigging also occurred in several polling stations in the whole upazila. This prompted the commission to suspend polling at those polling centres.

In Tangail, one presiding officer and a supporter of the AL candidate were arrested on the charge of vote rigging at the Basail Dhakhinpara polling station under Basail upazila. They are: Pervin Sultana and Rashed Hridoya. The duo have been sent to a court.

Kanak Kanti Debnath, the presiding officer, said that Rashed was casting false votes in favour of the boat symbol around 10am. Agents of other candidates lodged complaints with presiding officer. The police arrested Rashed with 10 ballot papers. He casted about 48 false votes. The ballot papers were  supplied by Pervin Sultana, assistant presiding officer, at the centre. Pervin was also arrested on charges of assisting in casting false votes.

Moreover, two persons on election duty were killed in their respective polling stations under Sakhipur upazila of the district. The deceased are identified as  Mojibor Rahman, a member of Ansar and VDP, and Azharul Islam Raja, a member of Boheratoil upazila parishad.

Aminur Rahman, upazila nirbahi officer of Sakhipur, said that Mojibor was posted at the Doriapur Akondapara Government Primary School centre. He became unconscious at the centre in the morning. He was rushed to the Sakhipur upazila hospital. As his condition deteriorated, he was rushed to the Tangail Medical College Hospital. Later, he died at the hospital.

Azharul Islam was discharging his duty as an agent of the AL candidate at the Jogirghopa Abtedaye Madrasha centre. He became unconscious at the centre around 9am. He was rushed to the Sakhipur Upazila hospital where the attending doctors declared him dead.

A total of 351 candidates contested for chairman posts, 533 for vice-chairman posts and 406 for woman vice-chairperson posts (reserved). Over 2.55 crore voters were supposed to cast their ballots at 9,740 polling stations.

Some 88 candidates for the posts of chairman, vice-chairman and woman vice-chairperson are likely to be elected unopposed in the fourth phase. Of them, 39 are for posts of chairman, 22 for posts of vice-chairman and 27 are aspirants for woman vice-chairperson posts, said EC sources.

The main battle of ballots was held between AL-nominated candidates and party rebels, as the major political parties, including the BNP, are boycotting the polls. The last phase of the UZ polls is likely to be held on June 18.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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