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Dhaka Tribune

CEC: EC will ensure level playing field in KCC polls

All will get equal opportunities and the election will be free and fair. There will be no partisan election, he says

Update : 30 May 2023, 09:02 PM

The Election Commission (EC) will ensure that there is a level playing field in the Khulna City Corporation (KCC) election slated for June 12, said Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal on Tuesday.

“All will get equal opportunities and the election will be free and fair. It will not be a partisan election,” he said at a views-exchange meeting over the KCC election at the auditorium of Khulna Shilpakala Academy.

The commission is using Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the voting, which leaves no chance for any manipulation of the election results. No one will be allowed to obstruct voters and curtail people's rights to franchise, according to the CEC.

The election will be monitored through CCTV cameras from the central office, he said.

Expressing satisfaction over the Gazipur City Corporation election, the CEC said: “We are working round the clock to ensure free and fair elections and we'll gift a fair election in Khulna.”

Kazi Habibul Awal also warned that the local administration will take strict action against those who violate the electoral code of conduct.

“Voters will come to the polling centers easily and cast their votes for their choice of candidates. If we get complaints that the voters are being blocked from entering the centres, failing to cast their votes, and that there are miscreants in the centres who have obstructed them, strict action will be taken against them,” the CEC said, adding that if any candidate violates the code of conduct, he or she will not be spared.

Election Commissioner Brigadier General (Rtd) Md Ahsan Habib Khan and Secretary to the Election Commission Secretariat Md Jahangir Alam attended the meeting as special guests, while Khulna Divisional Commissioner Zillur Rahman Chowdhury was in the chair.

The meeting was addressed, among others, by Deputy Commissioner of Khulna Yasir Arefin, Khulna Metropolitan Police (KMP) Commissioner Masudur Rahman Bhuiyan, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Khulna Range Moinul Haque, Superintendent of Police (SP) Khulna Mahbub Hasan.

“If the presiding officer neglects his duty, we will take strict action against him. Candidates also have to perform their duties well,” the CEC said.

He also urged the candidates to ensure the presence of their polling agents. 

“There will be a presiding officer to whom their polling agents can complain,” he added.

At the meeting, the CEC listened to various complaints of the candidates and took on board all possible solutions and suggestions for consideration.

On May 28, CEC Kazi Habibul Awal held a similar meeting with candidates for the Barisal City Corporation election.

Following the meeting, he vowed to crack down on irregularities and the use of muscle power during the polls.

The US recently announced a new visa policy to promote free and fair elections in Bangladesh.

“Under this policy, we can impose visa restrictions on individuals and their immediate family members if they are responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a recent Tweet.

The Bangladesh government has said that it remains committed to holding fair elections, and it hopes the new US visa policy will be applied objectively and not arbitrarily.

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