• Sunday, Sep 23, 2018
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Counting begins after daylong vote in three cities

  • Published at 09:09 am July 30th, 2018
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A man cast vote at a polling centre in Baisal on July 30, 2018 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

BNP mayoral candidates in Barisal and Sylhet have boycotted the polls

Balloting in the elections to the Rajshahi, Barisal, and Sylhet city corporations has ended amidst allegation of vote rigging, ballot stuffing and occupying polling stations.

There were, however, no reports of violence anywhere in the three cities during the vote held between 8am and 4pm on Monday.

Vote counting then started shortly after to find out who will be the next mayors in these cities.

Voting was suspended at one polling station in Barisal and two in Sylhet over various irregularities during the day.

The three Awami League mayoral candidates in the three cities had cast their votes without any issues. All of them had claimed that fair election was underway.

But BNP’s mayoral runners in Barisal and Sylhet have boycotted the polls alleging gross violation of rules and irregularities and demanded cancellation of the votes.

The party’s candidate in Rajshahi, Mohammad Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul, did not even cast his vote in protest against such reported irregularities carried out by ruling party men in the polling centres.

Eighteen candidates are vying for the mayor posts of the three cities. Councillor aspirants are competing for 87 general wards and 29 wards reserved for women councillors.

A total of 882,036 voters were expected to cast their votes in 395 polling centres across these cities.

However, the voter turnout percentages are yet to be announced by the Election Commission, which was determined to organize free and fair city polls.

Political parties have taken the city elections seriously as they come only months before the 11th national election. They said these will be a test of popularity and political might.

Ruling Awami League is confident about winning in at least two cities.

BNP claims its leaders and activists were being persecuted during the polls.

This time, 15 electronic voting machines (EVMs) – 11 in Barisal and two each in Rajshahi and Sylhet – were used.

Too many risky centres

Law enforcement agencies had considered most polling stations in Barisal, Sylhet, and Rajshahi cities as risky.

The Election Commission had deployed additional law enforcement members to maintain law and order.

Commission officials said 112 of the 123 polling stations in Barisal, 80 of the 134 stations in Sylhet and 114 of the 138 stations in Rajshahi were considered risky.

Twenty-two members of police, Ansar, and VDP were deployed at each general centre, and 24 at every risky centre.

The commission also deployed 87 platoons of RAB. Thirty platoons were deployed in both Rajshahi and Barisal, and 27 platoons in Sylhet.

One RAB platoon was deployed in each general ward.

Forty-four platoons of BGB troopers were deployed in the three cities—15 platoons in both Rajshahi and Barisal, and 14 in Sylhet. Among them, one platoon was deployed for two general wards.

Mobile and striking forces, which comprised of police, the Armed Police Battalion, and Ansar and VDP, were also deployed.

Thirty platoons of mobile forces and 10 platoons of striking forces were deployed in both Rajshahi and Barisal. In Sylhet, 27 platoons of mobile forces and 10 platoons of striking forces were on duty.

Executives and judicial magistrates were also on duty in the polls.