Monday, January 21, 2019

Irregularities didn’t tilt Khulna City mayor election: Observers’ group

  • Staff Correspondent,
    Published: 2018-05-16 20:51:47 BdST


A group of election observers’ organisations have identified ‘some’ irregularities in Khulna City Corporation elections, but said these could not tilt the mayoral polls results.

Election Working Group came up with the findings on Tuesday’s voting at a news conference on Wednesday as ruling Awami League mayor candidate Takukdar Abdul Khalek beat the BNP’s Nazrul Islam Manju by around 66,000 votes.

The Election Commission postponed voting in three of the 289 polling centres at the city with around half a million voters. The turnout was 62.19 percent.

Despite EC’s happiness over the fairness of voting, Manju alleged large-scale rigging and demanded re-elections at 100 centres.

Abdul Alim, a director of the EWG, said, “There were some sporadic incidents of violence and irregularities in Khulna City Corporation polls.”

“Though there were attempts to change the results in a number of polling stations through violence and irregularities, the incidents were sporadic and not so substantial that could have reversed the results,” he added.

The EWG made a report on its findings after observing 145 centres picked randomly.

According to the report, the EWG observers saw violence in 32 percent of the centres.

The incidents of violence and irregularities included stuffing ballot boxes with fake votes in 28 centres, sporadic clashes or attacks in and outside 16 centres, presence of unauthorised people inside the centres and barring voters from casting votes at 18 centres.

A general view of a polling station in Khulna City during Tuesday’s voting. Photo: Mostafigur Rahman

They also saw police working in favour of particular candidates at four centres.

The EWG said three people were arrested over irregularities. Voting was suspended at 10 centres but finally balloting at three centres was postponed.

Alim said EWG observers saw the Awami League’s polling agents at 99.3 percent centres and the BNP’s at 88.8 percent stations.

The BNP alleged the ruling party people drove their polling agents out of many centres with the help of police.

About the law-enforcing agencies’ role in the voting, Alim said, “They did their job. The incidents in which they worked in favour of particular candidates were insignificant.

“We can’t call the elections either fully peaceful or largely undisciplined,” he added.

Another EWG director, National Election Observation Council or Janipop Chairman Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah said, “We are speaking about the irregularities so that the Election Commission can take measures to prevent these in future.”  

The BNP demanded reforms to the EC, claiming Khulna polls proved fair election was impossible under the current commission.

Kalimullah said, “It appeared from the measures they (EC) took that they did not breach their oath. They took into account reports of rigging and postponed voting where it was necessary.”