- Foreign Affairs
- November 18, 2017
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will cast her vote at Dhaka City College polling centre today as a voter of Dhaka South City Corporation.
PM’s Press Secretary AKM Shamim Chowdhury said she would go to the poll centre at 8am.
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia will not be able to cast her vote as she is not listed under any of the city corporations in Dhaka.
Awami League’s mayoral candidate for Dhaka north Annisul Huq skipped talking to media on the eve of the city corporation polls yesterday.
Family sources said Annisul and his wife Rubana Huq were recluse in memory of their child who died on this day 13 years ago. One of his close aides said the business tycoon and his wife visited their child’s grave and offered special prayers. They usually do not work on this day. Rubana in particular abstains from work throughout the month of April in memory of their child.
A fear of violence threatens to keep voters away from the ballot box today, as six million voters in the country’s two major cities – comprising three city corporations – get ready to cast their votes.
The question of voter turn-out, especially in the early hours of polling, is critically important to the two major political parties – the ruling Awami League and the opposition BNP.
With city elections just a few hours away, Awami League-backed mayoral candidate AJM Nasir Uddin yesterday said he was confident about winning the mayor’s seat, as the people of the port city were yearning for a change.
Nasir told the Dhaka Tribune he was the candidate who could fulfil the desires of the port city’s residents.
Nasir spent most of yesterday at his own home – passing out his election instructions over the phone or the internet to election agents, leaders and supporters.
Voting in the two city corporations of the capital is set to take place today amid tight security measures as around 60,000 law enforcers of different agencies would be performing duty to ensure a free and fair election.
Security is one of the most crucial issues during the polls when over 18 lakh people will exercise their franchise.
Of the 1,982 polling centres in 93 wards, the law enforcers have identified 1,429 as vulnerable. Moreover, intelligence sources say contract killers, arms dealers and listed criminals are out to jeopardise the much-awaited elections.
The Election Commission’s (EC) preparations for today’s three city corporation polls will rely on the monitoring and security duties of more than 139,000 people.
Each polling centre in today’s city corporation elections in Dhaka North, Dhaka South and Chittagong city will be monitored by three observers.
That translates into some 9,000 observers working at some 2,701 polling centres in the three city corporations, EC records show.
Ahead of tomorrow’s city elections, BNP-backed mayoral candidate M Manjur Alam yesterday expressed concerns about whether a free and fair election would actually take place in the port city.
Blaming Awami League supporters of attacking his polling agents, Manjur said law enforcers were also assisting in intimidating and threatening his supporters to stop them from heading to polling centres.
He again blamed the EC for ignoring the presence of a large number of Awami League men from outside the city ahead of the elections.
Bangladesh may be used as a staging area for humanitarian aid to disaster-stricken Nepal, according to a cabinet source.
The Cabinet yesterday decided that foreign aircraft could transit here en route to Nepal.
The source said when State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam raised the issue, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina decided to open all airports for the relief effort. At least 3,700 people are known to have died in the earthquake on Saturday.
A mild earthquake jolted Dhaka and other parts of the country again yesterday.
The tremor, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, was felt around 6:35pm. However, there was no immediate report of any damage or casualty, according to the Dhaka Met office.
The epicentre of the earthquake was near Siliguri, India, some 413km north-west of Dhaka’s earthquake observatory.
Many voters as well as candidates of the Chittagong City Corporation have expressed concern over the alleged distribution of money among slum dwellers and other floating voters, as was reported during the 2010 election.
Their apprehension grew stronger as the leaders of the Awami League and the BNP blamed each other in the last two days for spending money to buy votes ahead of today’s election.
Issuing a note of warning, BNP standing committee member Moudud Ahmed said the government would be held to account if free and fair elections were not held.
Allegations of intimidation and harassment against BNP-backed candidates and their campaign offices in Dhaka North and South were rife on the eve of the city corporation polls.
Chittagong is prepared for the city corporation election today.
The Election Commission’s Chittagong office has sent voting materials to the polling centres and law enforcers have started patrolling the city and guarding the centres.
Presiding officials collected all the necessary equipment from the gymnasium of MA Aziz Stadium, Assistant Returning Officer Shafiqur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune.
Tabith M Awal, BNP-backed mayoral candidate for Dhaka north, said that he is sure about a win if the polls are free and fair and people can cast votes without fear.
At 36, Tabith is the youngest of the men part in the mayoral race in the north.
Yesterday, he passed a busy time in his Tejgaon election office, fixing last-minute strategies with election agents. He held a series of meetings with his supporters and BNP leaders.
Tabith said the harassment and repression on his agents has frustrated and scared him.
Election fever has gripped Chittagong on the eve of the city polls, with a festive mood lingering among most port city residents; however, some expressed concerns about the security situation on election day.
Besides being able to elect a new city mayor after a five year wait, Chittagong residents have an extra reason to be happy about – as many as 100,000 of their respective family members who live in other districts have returned to the city to cast their ballots tomorrow.
Sayeed Khokon, Awami League’s choice for the mayor of Dhaka south, spent almost the entire day yesterday in Old Dhaka.
He began the day at 2:15pm from his central election office at Bangabandhu Avenue.
In reply to a journalist’s query, Khokon said: “I will not talk to you now. If I give an interview, it will be a violation of the code.”
Around 3pm, he went to his ancestral home at Nazirabazar and also visited his election office there.
Dhaka south’s BNP-backed mayoral candidate Mirza Abbas has not come out even once since electioneering began two and a half weeks ago, but he might cast his vote today, his wife Afroza Abbas said.
She visted a number of different areas, met supporters and polling agents and gave them instructions. “Ruling party men have been threatening polling agents to not work for Abbas,” Afroza said.
‘Both plainclothes and uniformed law enforcers conducted illegal raids on our supporters’ residences and threatened them’As Chittagong voters ready themselves to head to the polling centres tomorrow, allegations have again been raised against Awami League men of attacking and intimidating BNP supporters with threats to keep them away from voting.
People who have seen previous city corporation elections in the port city have said that this year’s voter turnout may surpass the previous two.
They said that because of a more stable political situation than before, greater number of contestants, and the enthusiasm of those who could not cast their votes in last year’s national election may end up boosting voter presence this time.
The government is yet to bring back Nur Hossain, prime accused in Narayanganj seven murders that took place one year back, from Kolkata, India, while law enforcers have failed to arrest over a dozen other absconding accused in the case.
Ward councillor and suspended Awami League leader Nur is now under trial for illegal entry.
Two garment workers were allegedly raped by miscreants at Gabshara union of Bhuiyanpur upazila in Tangail on April 13.
Though the family of the victims hesitated to lodge a case due to death threats from the culprits, with the help of locals the victims’ father filed a case on Sunday night.