EC gears up for third phase of UP polls

Posters are seen during a campaign at Kazipara in Narayagnanj’s Sonargaon on Tuesday, Nov 2, 2021, ahead of the Nov 11 elections to Dhamgarh Union Council. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove
The Election Commission has cautiously wrapped up preparations for the third phase of voting in union councils across the country as it looks to prevent disorder and violence.

The campaign period ended on Friday midnight. Voting is scheduled to begin at 8 am on Sunday and will continue until 4 pm without any interruptions.

Violations of the code of conduct were reported in several constituencies.

More than three dozen people have been killed in election violence during the union council polls so far.

The EC has held regular meetings with law enforcement agencies, administrative officials, and election officials to try to control the situation. It has also been issuing strict warnings to all parties.

"We will try our best to prevent election violence in this next phase," Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda said.

Officials have been instructed to identify ‘pockets’ of violence and collect intelligence in advance. The EC has called for increased surveillance and exemplary action against offenders.

Huda also sought the cooperation of all, including political parties, candidates and supporters, to maintain peace in the elections.

“Members of law enforcement agencies, and executive and judicial magistrates are in the field to oversee the polls. The election materials will reach the centres on Saturday,” SM Asaduzzaman, joint secretary to the EC, said.

Voting will take place in 100 union councils on Sunday. There are 20,148,276 voters and 10,159 polling stations.

As many as 569 people have already been elected without contest. Among them, 100 were elected to the post of chairman, 132 as reserved members and 337 as general members.

Excluding those already elected, 50,146 candidates are competing for the posts of chairman, reserved member and general member.

Voting will also be held in nine municipalities in the eighth phase of the municipal polls on Sunday.

The first phase of the union council elections was held on two days - Jun 21 and Sept 20 - and the second phase was held on Nov 11. Although various parties, including the Awami League and Jatiya Party, are competing in the polls, BNP is not taking part.

The fourth phase of the union council elections has been pushed back three days as the original date coincided with the HSC and equivalent examinations.

The elections to the lowest tier of local government will now be held on Dec 26. The schedule for the fifth phase will be announced on Saturday.

Huda claimed that voting was "competitive and participatory" in the first two phases of the polls.

“The UP polls have been successful overall. A few isolated incidents have taken place. There were casualties, which are not desirable. However, the average turnout was 74 percent in the two phases of the elections.”