With counting in 113 centers remaining, Atiqul Islam leads Tabith by over 172,900 votes - a virtually insurmountable lead given that Tabith is averaging little over 200 votes per center
The Awami League’s Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh and Atiqul Islam have clinched sweeping victories over the BNP’s Ishraque Hossain and Tabith Awal in the second election in the history of the administratively divided city of Dhaka.
The ruling party nominated candidates emerged victors in both city corporations after a dull day of voting on Saturday with a very poor turnout of about 30% of voters, unofficial results announced by the Election Commission (EC) show.
According to unofficial results, Taposh bagged 424,595 votes, while his rival BNP's Ishraque Hossain bagged 236,512. Out of 2,453,196 voters, some 711,488 cast their vote, which is 29.002% of total voters.
DSCC Returning Officer Abdul Baten announced the results around 12:38am on Sunday.
Based on the unofficial results of 1,318 polling centres, Awami League's candidate Atiqul Islam has won the mayoral race for the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC).
With all centers reporting, Dhaka Tribune can now project Atiqul as the winner of the DNCC mayoral race and the new mayor of Dhaka North.
Atiqul retained his position as incumbent mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation – to which he was elected in a by-election in 2018 after the death of his predecessor Annisul Huq. His opponent Tabith Awal lost again in the race for Dhaka North’s mayor.
Taposh, the Awami League candidate whose party endorsement sidelined incumbent mayor Sayeed Khokon of Dhaka South City Corporation, beat off Ishraque’s debut political challenge for the office.
The highlight of the election was the astonishing glitches of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) in some pr
ominent cases. But the election was largely peaceful, except for clashes in some areas.
Meanwhile, the BNP has rejected the results, terming the election “nothing but a farce.” It has called a dawn to dusk hartal for today in Dhaka city.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhru Islam Alamgir announced the hartal at a press briefing.
At least ten incidents of clashes were reported from Naya Paltan, Gandaria, Tikatuli, Bakshibazar, Mohammadpur, Badda, Bailey Road, Adabar, and Mirpur.
The most severe clashes occurred in front of the BNP headquarters in Naya Paltan, Bakshibazar Government Primary School centre under the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and the Beraid Muslim High School centre of Badda at Dhaka North city.
Awami League-backed councillor aspirant Aleya Sarwar Daisy is among the victims of the attacks.
At least five journalists sustained injuries in the attacks. Inspector General of Police Dr Mohammad Javed Patwary said strict action would be initiated against those who had assaulted on-duty journalists during the elections.
A flawed EVM rollout?
This was the first election in the country's history held solely with EVMs.
In many centers, the EVMs failed to identify voters by their biometric signatures. CEC Nurul Huda and Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain were two of the more prominent figures who could not cast their votes before polling officers were able to help them access the ballots with their voter ID cards.
There were also reports of EVMs failing to register the fingerprints of dozens of senior citizens in some polling centers. At the same time, allowing third parties inside voting booths at polling centres to "assist" voters in casting their ballots was a key feature of Saturday's election.
Our correspondents found unknown people, in the guise of agents and supporters of the ruling party backed mayoral and councillor candidates, trying to influence voters to cast their votes for their favorite candidates.
These unidentified people were also seen pressing the confirm buttons of the EVM before the voters did it by themselves.
According to electoral laws, only voters are allowed to enter the booths.
Low voter turnout mars election
Though the presence of voters gradually increased in comparison with the early stage of the polls, the upward trend in voters’ turnout was not as satisfactory as had been expected.
At many polling centers, polling agents and officers outnumbered the total voter turnout. During inspections, such as those by IGP Dr Javed Patwary, DMP Commissioner Shafiqul Islam and CTTC Chief Monirul Islam at Kabi Nazrul Government College prompted around 100 ruling party members milling outside to rapidly form two queues to pretend they were voters.
On seeing them, the IGP asked why the queue of voters was not moving and told officials to free up space so the line could move on. Officials followed the order, but no one from the queues entered the centre. Once the police officials left, the queues promptly dispersed.
CEC KM Nurul Huda, in the evening, said the voter turnover for the Dhaka North and Dhaka South City Corporation elections had not been over 30%.
“The elections have been fair and good but I do not know about percentage [turnover]... I expect it will be below 30%,” he said while talking to reporters at the EC Secretariat.
Responding to journalists’ queries on agents of opposition candidates being driven out from polling centres, Huda said no agent or candidate had raised any such allegation before the commission.
“I have visited a centre for casting my vote, and found agents from all parties present there. It is the responsibility of the agents to visit polling centres, but if an agent is driven out of the centre after his/her arrival, he/she may file a complaint,” he explained.
However, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder said he had failed to find any agent representing opposition mayoral candidates in at least 12 polling centres that he visited from 10:30am to 2pm on Saturday.
The voter turnout was below 25% as per results arrived at, he told reporters at 7:20pm.
Awami League Advisory Committee Member and party Chief Coordinator of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) election Amir Hossain Amu cited three reasons for the low voter turnout in the elections.
The rescheduling of the voting date, a crisis of vehicles and a long vacation before the election day were the main reasons for the low casting of votes, Amu said.
City elections at-a-glance
City dwellers on Saturday practised their voting rights to elect two mayors and councillors for the Dhaka South and North city corporations for the next five years.
Voting began at 8am and continued without any break until 4pm through a use of EVMs in all centres.
Besides electing two mayors, voters in Dhaka North cast ballots to elect 54 ward councillors and 18 reserved women councillors. In Dhaka South, they voted to elect 73 ward councillors and 23 reserved women councillors.
Four councillor candidates, including two in reserved seats, had earlier been elected unopposed to the DSCC.
Shohel Mamun, Kamrul Hasan, Arifur Rahman Rabbi, Mizanur Rahman, Md Saidun Nabi, Niloy Alam, Abdullah Alif, Kohinur Khyum Tithila, Mehedi Al Amin, Mehedi Hasan, Md Sanaul Islam Tipu, Niaz Mahmud, Ali Asif Shawon, Hasan Al Javed, Nawaz Farhin Antara, Arifur Rahman Rabbi, Fahim Reza Shovon, and Mamun Abdullah contributed to this report