- Foreign Affairs
- November 18, 2017
Elections to municipalities, the second last tier of the local government system in Bangladesh, have never been so important.
According to the latest voter list updated in January this year, there are more than 90 million voters in the country now.
Geographically, the 234 municipalities that are seeing election today cover the entire of Bangladesh as each of the 64 districts have several municipalities under them.
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad yesterday said congenial environment is still prevailing across the country for holding the much-hyped first ever partisan municipal polls.
Just one day before the municipal election, the CEC said this while briefing journalists at the media centre of Election Secretariat in the capital’s Agargaon.
“Except for some stray incidents, the congenial and peaceful environment is prevailing throughout the country,” said Kazi Rakib.
On the eve of the first ever partisan municipality elections in the country, the Awami League and BNP yesterday sent their own delegations to the Election Commission to complain against each other.
The BNP first went to the EC and alleged that at least 5,000 of its workers had been arrest in the last six weeks and around 300 were injured in attacks by ruling party men.
Hours later, the Awami League sent its own delegation who accused the commission of being biased towards the BNP and acting like a “stepmother” towards the ruling party.
Several hundred members of different pro-liberation organisations staged a demonstration in the capital’s Gulshan 2 intersection yesterday protesting BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s controversial remarks on the number of 1971 martyrs.
They flocked to the intersection around 10am to participate in Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee’s programme to lay siege to Khaleda’s residence in Gulshan.
Voters in the northern districts, where most polling centres are said to be vulnerable to violence, are saying they would wait and assess the situation during the first few hours of voting before deciding whether they should head to cast their ballots.
Despite sporadic incidents of violence in the region, many of the voters told the Dhaka Tribune they were hoping that the municipality elections would be peaceful.
Tight security measures are in place in all 17 municipal areas in Barisal division for the much-awaited elections today.
Law enforcers will be on duty both in uniform and plainclothes from early morning.Until last night, there was no reports of major violence anywhere in the division.
Earlier, district administrations and security forces advised all visitors and non-residents to leave Barisal by Monday midnight. Carrying of firearms and sharp weapons in the election areas have been restricted until January 3.
Even after election campaig deadline expired Monday midnight, candidates in municipalities of Sylhet division continued to reach out to voters using digital media.
Candidates used SMS and Facebook to get an edge over rivals. Voters said they received texts not seeking votes but blessings.
Golam Kibria Chowdhury, BNP candidate in Golapganj municipality, admitted that he had sought blessing of the elders over mobile phone after the campaign deadline ended.
Voters are concerned that today’s municipal polls might witness clashes between supporters of partisan mayoral candidates as at least 86% polling centres in Chittagong district have been identified as risky.
According to a report prepared by intelligence agencies, a total of 114 polling centres out of 133 in 10 municipality areas of the district have been declared risky.
Law enforcers said all polling centres of Baryarhat, Mirsarai, Raozan and Chandanaish municipalities in Chittagong district have been identified as risky.
Independents and party rebels stand poised to impact the outcome of Rajshahi Division’s 50 municipal elections today.
Polls watchers yesterday said party renegades and independent candidates were expected to have a major impact on the elections, with some saying that they could pull off upsets in up to a fifth of the seats being contested.
Even if they fail to win the seats, observers said their shares of the votes cast could cost the top picks their seats.
Candidates backed by opposition parties in Khulna division fear that vote results may be rigged by the ruling party supporters at the municipal polls today.
A number of mayoral candidates from the BNP and Jatiya Party – and even some rebel candidates from the Awami League – have already been attacked by the members of the Awami League during electoral campaigns.
The opposition candidates also think there may be attacks and violence during the poll.
The Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) yesterday declared the Shyamoli-Aminbazar road a parking-free space.
The DNCC will also gradually free the roads and footpaths in Shyamoli, Kallyanpur, Technical Intersection, Mazar Road, Gabtoli and Aminbazer from illegal occupation.
The announcement formally came from a rally organised by the DNCC at Gabtoli Bus Terminal yesterday.
A JMB man who was initially reported to have been killed in a RAB shootout but was later found to be alive, has now been arrested again allegedly by the elite force.
Minhazul Islam Sanwar, 23, returned to his home in Bogra’s Khamarkandi village Monday evening, only to be detained hours later by RAB.
Law enforcers sustained more attacks in 2015 than in 2014, but the number of deaths this year was lower than last.
According to Police Headquarters, at least 8 to 10 law enforcers died in attacks in 2015. Some 64 died of all causes including illness, attacks and other causes during this period. In 2014, at least 102 policemen were killed in different incidents.
Separate data found that 57 policemen died of all causes in 2015, the corresponding number in 2014 was 107.
National cricketer Shahadat Hossain and his wife Jesmine Jahan Nrittya have been charged for torturing their 11-year-old housemaid.
Police yesterday submitted the charge sheet against the suspended national team cricketer and his wife in a case filed for torturing their under-age domestic help.
Officer-In-Charge (investigation) of Mirpur Police Station Md Shafiqur Rahman, also investigation officer of the case, submitted the charge sheet to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court.
The Chittagong University authorities yesterday suspended three students, who were arrested on Sunday, for their alleged involvement with banned militant outfit Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).
The trio, all students of physics department, are Naimur Rahman alias Noyon of final year, and Md Shawkat Rasel and Faisal Mahmud of Masters, said Registrar Prof Dr Kamrul Huda.
“They will get back their studentship if they can prove their innocence,” he added.
The annual Textbook Festival Day will be inaugurated by Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid at 9am on January 1 at Government Laboratory High School in the capital.
Students from classes I to IX across the country would receive free textbooks on the first day of New Year, Deputy Secretary Subodh Chandra Dhali told the Dhaka Tribune.
Primary and secondary schools, madrasas and vocational institutions will remain open on that day but there will be no classes, he said.
French NGO worker Puemo Tchantchuing, who prefers to be known as Moussa Ibn Yacoub since his reported conversion to Islam, has been kept under police custody since December 22 for his activities with the Rohingyas.
He used to work for France-based NGO Baraka City in Cox’s Bazar and visited Myanmar through Bangladesh five to six times, police said, adding that the NGO was not registered in Bangladesh.
The India government has released the first installment of its agreed funding to open a new waterway link between its north-eastern region and Bangladesh.
The waterway is designed to facilitate the movement of people, goods and machinery and to hugely help the land-locked region, said a senior official in Agartala.
Today’s local polls are a good time to reflect on the progress made by the new mayors of the country’s three largest city corporations.
Since their election in April, the mayors of Chittagong and Dhaka North and South have rightly placed emphasis on improving core city services. The huge interest sparked by the mayoral debates highlighted the enormous unmet demand for improvements to basic services such as public transport and waste collection.
Before we jump into building a nuclear power plant, we must be aware of the dangers. This is the first part of a two-part long formBangladesh signed a $12.65 billion deal on December 25 with a Russian state-run company for the construction of a 2400MW nuclear power plant at Rooppur. Out of the total amount, $10bn was fixed as the base price, $1bn for soil stabilisation, and the remaining $1.65bn for price escalation.
The additional cost is associated with the construction of four to five radiation stations outside the power plant area, hiring extra manpower for the construction of a jetty and road, and fuel cost for one additional year. Russia will provide these for two years after commissioning.