The press briefing was organized to publish an assessment of the bifurcated city elections and a report on the personal information of the victorious candidates
Following the 11th parliamentary polls, marred by violence and accusations of a crackdown against the opposition, the National Election Commission (EC) has once again failed to ensure elections to the Dhaka North and South city corporations in a free, fair and credible manner, said Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan).
Shujan, a civil society platform for good governance, made the observation at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) in the capital on Monday.
The press briefing was organized to publish an assessment of the bifurcated city elections and a report on the personal information of the victorious candidates.
Reading out a written statement, Dilip Kumar Sarker, central coordinator of Shujan, said the recently concluded Dhaka North and South city corporation elections were "controlled" affairs.
The Election Commission also could not address the apprehension of the voters over the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). Instead of addressing such concerns, the commission reiterated its confidence in the EVM, thereby ignoring public worries, according to Shujan.
The civil society platform said elections were the only legitimate and peaceful way to bring about a change in power. If the peaceful process were to be obstructed, the nation would move towards a bleak future. One way in which civil society granted legitimacy to governments is through public elections, it noted.
“The government and the Election Commission would have to take this responsibility.”
Shujan's President M Hafiz Uddin Khan, addressing the media, said: “The Election Commission has no true intent of holding free and fair elections.”
Although a number of candidates reported irregularities committed by their rivals, the commission did not make any attempt to address them under due process, he added.
Shujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumder demanded that the Election Commission investigate the said candidates on the basis of the allegations. He also urged the President to investigate those candidates of the 2018 general election who had failed to pay their income tax.
Low turnout marks Dhaka city polls
Shujan found a number of reasons contributing to the low voter turnout on election day. Among these were distrust and a lack of confidence in the electoral system among voters, apparent apprehension over EVMs and negative propaganda about EVMs.
Voters turned away from polling centres amid unrest among political parties, some of the polling centers were in the control of pro-government activists, and there were instances of a mismatch of fingerprints, as Shujan pointed out.
Opposition party supporters were under the impression that their favorite candidates could not win, and vehicles remained off the roads, followed by a two-day holiday period.
94% people say election unfair
Following the two city corporation polls, Shujan conducted an online poll on its Facebook page to ascertain the overall opinion of general citizens.
4,300 people participated in the online poll, and shockingly 94% of the respondents were of the view that the two city corporation polls had not been free and fair.