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CEC to police: Do not harass polling officials

  • Published at 01:22 pm November 22nd, 2018
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda addresses the police during a meeting on law and order ahead of the next election on November 22, 2018 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

‘There is no need to visit the polling officials’ houses and question them,’ CEC tells police top brass

Law enforcers must refrain from making house visits to collect information on polling officials ahead of the 11th parliamentary election, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda said on Thursday. 

The CEC told a meeting of the country’s most senior police officers in Dhaka that such door-to-door visits “raise many questions” and can “embarrass” the polling officials. 

“Most of the polling officials recruited for this election have worked in previous elections, so there is no need to collect information on them again,” the CEC told the meeting, which was called to discuss the law and order situation ahead of the December 30 polls.

“If you need to collect information about the new officials, you may do so discreetly, using your sources. There is no need to visit their houses and question them. We do not want this.” 

With the general election only five weeks away, police have been collecting information about the presiding, assistant-presiding and polling officials. 

According to media reports, the information being collected includes the election officials’ current and previous political affiliations.

Leaders of the new opposition platform, Jatiya Oikya Front, have alleged that through this procedure, the government is trying to make sure there are pro-Awami League officials at polling centres who could steer the voting in the ruling party’s favour. 

“The roles of the police and administration are most crucial in organizing a free, fair, and acceptable election,” the CEC said. “We have to be alert so our actions do not make the election questionable.”

Nurul Huda further said the upcoming election would be “a very important one” since all political parties are set to participate in it.

“All of us will work together to organize a fair election,” he added.

Thursday’s meeting was attended by the four election commissioners, the Election Commission secretary, secretary of the Ministry of Home Affair’s Public Security Division, the inspector general of police, the police commissioners in all city corporations, and the superintendents of police (SPs) from all the districts. 

During the meeting, the SPs asked the Election Commission not to transfer them during the election, based on the sweeping complaints made by election candidates. 

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune on condition of anonymity, several of the SPs said the CEC assured them all complaints would be looked into before any decisions are made regarding transfers. 

More than 600 magistrates have been appointed to ensure a level playing field for all the contestants in the election, as well as to ensure that the electoral code of conduct is strictly followed during the polls.

EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said the magistrates will be briefed on the election on November 24-26.