POST TIME: 22 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 22 March, 2019 01:28:34 AM
EC ready for polls to 127 upazilas Mar 24
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

EC ready for polls to 127 upazilas Mar 24

The Election Commission (EC) has made elaborate preparations for the third phase of the fifth upazila parishad elections in a free, fair and peaceful manner. The commission yesterday (Thursday) imposed a ban on the movement of Rohingyas from March 23 to 25, to maintain law and order during the elections, to be held on March 24.

The Commission has asked the Narail-1 constituency lawmaker B M Kabirul Haque to leave his area immediately as his stay violates electoral code of conduct.

According the election schedule, the third phase will be held in 127 upazilas of 25 districts in Rajshahi, Rangpur, Khulna, Barishal, Mymensingh, Dhaka and Chattrogram divisions.

The EC has written to the home ministry to take steps in this regard. Rohingya refugees will not be allowed to come out from camps from 7pm of March 23 to 8am of March 25, the EC letter said.

The letter also said no candidate can use Rohingya refugees in election campaigning as their supporters ahead of the polls. But food and relief materials, as well as health services for the Rohingya refugees, will be kept out of the purview of the restriction.

Besides, the EC has taken steps to hold the polls in a free, fair and peaceful manner. It will send ballot papers and other materials to polling centres in the morning of the voting day to avoid any untoward situation.

The commission has taken such a decision so that supporters or other influential people are not able to cast votes in favour of their  candidates before voting begins.

The EC has appointed 119 judicial magistrates to prosecute any person for illegal activities and irregularities during elections in 119 upazilas of 25 districts.

Additional personnel of the police, RAB, BGB, Ansar-VDP, Coast Guard and the APBN have been deployed for five days to maintain law and order.

Candidates for the post of chairman, vice-chairman and women vice-chairman (reserved) have been campaigning for the third phase of polls.

The contest will be between AL-nominated candidates and party rebels, as major political parties, including the BNP, are boycotting the polls. They blame the government and the EC for "failing" to hold elections in a free, fair and credible manner.

The fifth local government elections are being held under the party banner for the first time.

Some independent candidates for the post of chairman yesterday called upon the EC to take steps so that influential ruling party candidates cannot violate the electoral code of conduct ahead of the polls. They also called upon the commission to hold the third pahse of upazila polls in a free and fair manner.

They also alleged that ruling party candidates are not following the electoral code of conduct and are violating electoral laws.

The fourth phase of upazila parishad polls will be held on March 31 and the last phase is likely to be held on June 18.

This is the fifth UP elections being held. The first upazila elections were held in 1985, followed by 1990, 2009 and 2014. The last polls were held in six phases.

Voter turnout in the first and second phase was very low, which irked the EC.

In the first two phases, AL men, without any surprise, bagged majority of chairman posts.

At least seven people, including two polling officials and four Ansar personnel, were shot dead in Rangamati's Baghaichhari upazila, in a violent turn of events in the second phase of upazila polls on March 18.

Fourteen people were injured in the attack. Of them, three died after being taken to the Baghaichhari Upazila Health Complex.

The security personnel, including two women, and the polling officials were returning to the upazila town with election results and polling materials.