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29 December, 2018 12:47:25 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 29 December, 2018 01:27:40 PM

All set for battle of ballots tomorrow

Staff Reporter, Dhaka
All set for battle of ballots tomorrow

Anticipation is running high for the election tomorrow, with the Election Commission (EC) having completed preparations for holding the 11th parliamentary polls. “Most of the registered political parties are contesting the polls this time. The election will be held amid a festive mode, I hope,” chief election commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda told journalists at Nirbachan Bhaban yesterday.

EC officials said 104,238,677 voters—52,572,365 males and 51,666,312 females—are expected to cast their votes at 207,312 booths across 40,183 polling centres in the country. A total of 1,861 candidates are contesting the polls for 299 parliamentary seats. Of them, 1,733 are from 39 political parties and 128 are independent candidates. The EC has deferred polling in the Gaibandha-3 constituency to January 27 because one of the contestants for the seat has died.

As many as 40,183 presiding officers, 207,312 assistant presiding officers and 414,624 polling officers, along with 66 returning officers and 582 assistant presiding officers, will conduct the polls.

The EC officials said they have taken foolproof measures to ensure the security of all, especially the voters, so that they can vote without any intimidation and fear.

On Thursday, the US ambassador to Bangladesh and the UN secretary general had expressed concern over the large scale pre-poll violence and urged the EC to especially ensure the security of voters and minority groups.

Reacting to the concern, the CEC said: “I would request the law enforcers to ensure security for all. I would expect that voters will cast votes as per their choice and return home without fear.”

Asked about BNP’s fear over violence during the election, Huda said: “They will be proved wrong. We are ready. The voters will cast their votes amid a festive mood.”

The election is very important for the nation because it will be held with the BNP-led alliance will also contest it, unlike last time when the opposition bloc boycotted the 10th parliamentary polls.

This parliamentary election will also be distinct because electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used for the first time in six constituencies—Dhaka-6, Dhaka-13, Chattogram-9, Satkhira-2, Khulna-2 and Rangpur-3.

A total of 48 candidates will contest in these six

constituencies. A total of 2,124,554 voters—1,085,052 males and 1,039,502 females—will cast votes at 5,045 booths under 845 centres for the six seats. The replacement of traditional ballot papers by EVMs has triggered awe and interest among the voters.

Given their significance, the EC organised mock trials of voting through EVMs in the six constituencies where voters turned up with great enthusiasm to know about them.

EC sources said they were trying their best to make the machines popular among the voters as they claim the EVMs can curb vote rigging, save time and are user-friendly. Though the BNP and some other political parties have opposed the introduction of EVMs in the parliamentary polls, the CEC clarified that the machines were being introduced on a limited scale after taking the opposition under consideration.

EC sources said they have sent all necessary election materials, including ballot papers, to the field. They have also arranged helicopters to carry such materials to remote areas.

Meanwhile, campaigning ended yesterday at 8 am and the candidates will not be allowed to hold any meetings till 4 pm on January 1. As per provision 78 of the Representation of the People Order, 1972, any kind of meeting, rally and procession are not allowed before 48 hours of an election and 48 hours after the end of polls.

Also yesterday, workers of different candidates distributed voter slips to the respective electorates from election booths.

Yesterday, many voters left the capital to cast votes in their respective areas. As a result, Kamalapur railway station and the inter-district bus terminals were full of people bound for their villages or small towns outside Dhaka.

On Thursday, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) had issued a notification, banning the plying of motorised vehicles from 12:01 am on election day for 24 hours.

In addition, there is a special bar on plying of motorcycles from December 28 midnight to January 1 midnight. However, the EC has kept the motorcycles of journalists out of the purview of the restriction, allowing them to ply with special stickers issued by the poll panel.

Also on Thursday, following an EC instruction, Bangladesh Bank asked mobile banking service providers to stop all sorts of transactions from 5pm on Friday till 5pm Sunday. However, personal account holders can do dealings up to Tk. 5,000 from 5pm on Saturday until the end of voting at 5pm on Sunday. This means that neither mobile banking agents nor personal account holders will be able to make any transaction for the first 24 hours of the ban.

Meanwhile, the EC has deployed 608,000 law enforcers as mobile and strike force during the election to ensure security of the candidates and voters. Of them, about 121,000 are police personnel, 446,000 are Ansars and 41,000 are Gram Police. Personnel from the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and VDP will also keep vigil to maintain law and order. The Army has also been deployed to aid the civil administration as an additional measure to ensure security.

There would be 414 platoons of the Army in 389 upazilas, 48 platoons of the Navy in 18 upazilas, 42 platoons of the Coast Guard in 12 upazilas, 983 platoons of the BGB, about 600 platoons of the RAB and about 2,000 platoons of mobile and striking forces.

Besides, police patrolling will continue across the country to ensure law and order. Besides law enforcers, 1,328 executive and 640 judicial magistrates have been deployed for election duties.

The EC has also set up 122 electoral enquiry committees comprising 244 persons to check against irregularities in the polls.

Besides, the EC has allowed local and foreign observers to watch the election as per guidelines. The EC has allowed 25,900 election observers from 81 domestic organisations.





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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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