- February 18, 2018
Awami League-backed mayoral candidate AJM Nasir Uddin has won in the Chittagong City Corporation election, which BNP boycotted alleging vote rigging.
Unofficial results from all 719 polling centers showed the ruling party-backed Nasir bagged 475,361 votes, while his rival BNP-backed M Manjur Alam got 304,837 votes.
Earlier in the polling day, Chittagong unit of the BNP boycotted the election bringing allegations of irregularities and vote rigging, when Manjur also declared his retirement from politics.
The much anticipated city polls ended yesterday amid a systematic manipulation of the election process by ruling Awami League activists.
Although largely peaceful, the election in all three city corporations – Dhaka south and north and Chittagong – was marked by widespread vote-rigging in the absence of polling agents representing the opposition candidates.
Almost the entire political opposition yesterday rejected the city corporation polls in Dhaka and Chittagong alleging widespread rigging.
It began even before the day’s voting was barely halfway through with Chittagong BNP officially pulling out and their mayoral candidate M Manjur Alam going as far as announcing retirement from politics in protest.
The mayoral candidates backed by the ruling Awami League were leading in Dhaka north, south and Chittagong city corporations until 1am.
The unofficial vote count by the Election Commission showed that Annisul Huq – with 1,91,007 votes – was ahead of BNP-backed Tabith M Awal – who had 1,37,728 votes – in the Dhaka north, from 464 out of 1,093 polling centres.
A registered election observer from Mass Line Media Centre, a local NGO that has been engaged in observing elections since 2003, was forced to leave a polling centre at gunpoint, as ruling party men engaged in acts of rigging.
The entire story of what the observer, Syed Ibne Masud, saw as he arrived at his assigned polling centre, the Siddheswari Girls’ High School in Dhaka South City Corporation, yesterday morning, is a particularly disturbing event on a day when there was no shortage of incidents that discredited the election overall.
Rival groups of the ruling Awami League clashed over occupying polling centres and casting fake votes during yesterday’s elections to the Dhaka north and south city corporations, leaving at least 100 people injured, a dozen of who were hit by bullets.
The injured include journalists, police, locals and ruling party supporters. At least 27 were treated at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, others at Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital and at private clinics.
Polling agents of BNP-backed DSCC mayoral candidate Mirza Abbas yesterday blamed ruling party supporters of indiscriminately obstructing them from entering polling centres, and in many cases assaulting them to rig the voting system.
Unsure what their next course of action would be, many of the agents – still wearing their identity cards around their necks – visited the residence of Mirza Abbas to raise their complaints.
Police personnel yesterday cited directives from their high-ups to obstruct journalists from entering many polling centres in Dhaka and Chittagong, even though there was no EC or police restrictions regarding this.
In many cases, journalists were allowed to go inside half an hour after voting had started, but were told not to take any pictures.
Fake poll agents were allegedly installed at several centres at Mir Hajibagh in South Jatrabari, in a novel use of false flag tactics. Such ruses allow instigators to claim the polls were properly monitored, when in fact those present are actually members of the same side.
At Tamirul Millat Kamil Madrasah, fake agent Wahidurrahman said he was unaware the BNP had pulled out of the race, while eating lunch bought by AL-backed Sayeed Khokon’s camp.
Election observer groups yesterday said voter turnout in the city corporation elections was very low and voting was frustrating.
The Election Working Group (EWG) said violence, anomalies and vote rigging marked the polls in Dhaka North City Corporation, Dhaka South City Corporation and Chittagong City Corporation.
The United States in a statement yesterday said it had widespread credible evidence that vote-rigging, intimidation and violence occurred in the city corporation election.
“We are disappointed by widespread, first-hand, and credible reports of vote-rigging, intimidation and violence that have occurred at polling stations today and BNP’s decision to boycott the polls,” said the statement issued by the US Embassy in Dhaka.
British High Commissioner Robert Gibson also expressed his disappointment at BNP’s election boycott.
Dhaka city corporation polls yesterday experienced a poor turnout just after BNP-backed candidates rejected the mayoral races.
The Dhaka Tribune correspondents found a large number of voters queueing up at different polling centres in the capital but they found the crowd dwindling after the withdrawal. And after 1:30pm polling agents could hardly see any voters.
Sayeed Wayesqurni, 23, a voter of Ward 9 of Dhaka North said he wanted to cast his vote in the afternoon but he changed his mind after the major opposition quit the fray.
Despite some stray incidents of violence, the city corporation elections were held peacefully with a large voter turnout, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad has said.
No large-scale violence took place during the polls but there were some stray incidents which law enforcers brought under control immediately, he told a press briefing at the EC media centre at 6pm yesterday.
The CEC said he visited two polling centres in Dhanmondi but received no complaints from voters.
People stranded in remote villages and towns across Nepal were still waiting for aid and relief to arrive, four days after a devastating earthquake destroyed buildings and roads and killed more than 4,600 people.
The government has yet to assess the full scale of the damage wrought by Saturday’s 7.9 magnitude quake, unable to reach many mountainous areas despite aid supplies and personnel pouring in from around the world.
If Mominul Haque had not fallen 20 runs short of a well-deserved fifth hundred, Bangladesh could well have ended the first day of the first Test against Pakistan in the driving seat. As fate would have it, Mominul was dismissed off the penultimate delivery of the opening day as the Tigers ended the day’s proceedings on 236/4 in 89.5 overs at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium yesterday.
We would have been in a better position if I was not dismissed. But still, I feel we are in a good position
Bangladesh top-order batsman Mominul Haque yesterday admitted that were it not for his late dismissal, they could have ended the first day of the first Test against Pakistan in a better position.
The left-hander was a delight to the eyes as he held one end for the most part of the opening day at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium. He bagged his eighth Test fifty but made an agonising exit as left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar trapped him in front off the very penultimate delivery of the day.
All the attention might be on Dhaka and Chittagong due to the city corporation polls but Khulna wasn’t that far off as the first of two Test matches between Bangladesh and Pakistan got underway yesterday at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium.
A total of 17 titles have been selected for screening during La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, commonly known as the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film festival.
Among these are Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights, which is a six-hour trilogy.
Philippe Garrel’s In the Shadow of Women, is to fill in the headline opening slot, while Rick Famuyiwa’s Sundance hit comedy Dope bagged the closing slot.
Like many polling centres of the capital, the Dhaka Tribune found that votes were being rigged at Shukrabad’s New Model College and New Model Bahumukhi High School, while it was also observed that it was the police and not the polling officials who were managing the voting booths at Lake Circus Girls High School centre.
It was 3:45pm yesterday.
In Ideal School and College polling centre at Dhanmondi, a police officer and three local Awami League leaders were busy stamping ballot papers at a booth on the third floor of the building, keeping the door wide open.
“It is not the right time to talk to you,” said Masud Rana, according to his nameplate, when asked by the Dhaka Tribune.
Rana then closed the door and resumed his freestyle stamping. Awami League-backed mayoral aspirant Sayeed Khokon’s polling agent Shahidul Islam assisted him.