12:00 AM, November 30, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, November 30, 2012

Doctors elect new leaders

Pro-BNP body boycotts polls as vote counting continues; pro-govt docs claim victory

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Staff Correspondent

A throng of voters queue up in front of the capital's Jatiya Press Club yesterday as the election to Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) was underway at the BMA office. The photo was taken around 11:30am. Photo: STAR

The pro-BNP Doctors Association of Bangladesh has boycotted the Bangladesh Medical Association election on allegations of rigging in different districts including Dhaka, Bhola, Rangpur, Mymensingh, Pirojpur and Jhalakathi.
AKM Azizul Haque, president candidate from DAB, said this to The Daily Star at 1:15am today.
BMA Secretary General Iqbal Arslan of the pro-Awami League Swadhinata Chikitsak Parishad (Swachip) said DAB did not bring any allegation during voting hours.
Claiming polls victory in 59 out of 67 BMA branches, he said, “When vote counting is about to end, they are bringing allegation of vote rigging; so it is not acceptable.”
Contacted at 2:05am, BMA Election Commission President Alauddin Sheikh said they were still counting votes. He also said the results will be formally declared at 4:00pm today.
Swachip and DAB were the major rivals in the polls to BMA, the national organisation of doctors.
The biennial election was held largely peacefully across the country between 8:30am and 5:00pm yesterday. Only in Kushtia, polls were suspended due to faulty ballot papers.
The number of total voters was 32,892, of which 13,338 were in Dhaka.
From Swachip camp, Mahmud Hasan along with running mate Iqbal Arslan was contesting against AKM Azizul Haque and AZM Zahid Hossain of DAB for the posts of president and secretary general.
A 41-member central committee and 364 central councillors were also supposed to be elected. The voters would also vote for their own unit committee members.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday evening, BMA Election Commission Secretary Shakhawat Hossain said around 70 percent of the voters in Dhaka had cast their votes. He could not say what the situation was in other places.
"It may take one or two days to announce the final results," he said, adding that the election commission did not know anything about polling suspension anywhere.
However, DAB leaders claimed that the voting was rigged while Swachip leaders and BMA election commission claimed that the voting was fair and peaceful.
"In Dhaka, voting was fair until 2:00pm. But during last three hours, pro-ruling party men rigged the election," said BMA president-aspirant Azizul Haque.
He alleged that the election commission was biased towards Swachip. He claimed that ruling party men also rigged the election in Mymensingh.
There was an incident of running battles between rivals in Mymensingh, our correspondent there reported.
However, BMA Election Commission Secretary said, "The commission has received neither verbal nor written complaints from any parties.”
BMA secretary-general-aspirant Iqbal Arslan said, "Both of us [Swachip and DAB members] stayed at the polling centres all day. So, there is no possibility of vote rigging."
Our Kushtia correspondent reports: Presiding officer of Kushtia BMA branch unit election Rafiqul Islam Tota said, "We found faults in the ballot papers around 9:30am when 18 votes were already cast. The polling was suspended around 11:30am."
Our Mymensingh correspondent adds: Chases and counter chases took place between Swachip and DAB members during the election. Both groups hurled brickbats at each other but no casualties were reported.

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