Irregularities down, violence up: CEC
Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad yesterday said violence escalated in the fifth phase of Union Parishad polls although there were fewer cases of irregularities this time.
At a post-election press conference at the media centre of the Election Commission Secretariat, the CEC said incidents of ballot box stuffing decreased this time than the previous phases but the number of casualties had increased.
“It is tough to control anyone if he wants to win polls by any means,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ruling Awami League termed the polls free and fair, while the BNP said it was worthless to inform the Election Commission about voting irregularities.
Rakibuddin said law enforcement agencies were forced to open fire for the sake of people's lives and properties when opposing candidates and their supporters got locked into clashes during the polls.
Voting in 53 centres out of 6,884 was suspended, the CEC added.
Regarding violence on the voting day, Rakibuddin said a “climate of violence” was prevailing in the country at present. Therefore, polls-related violence has also increased.
“We all, including political parties and candidates, need to change our mindset to stop the polls violence otherwise it would be tough to do so.”
“We are initiating tough actions to prevent polls violence and we will never tolerate any irregularities at the polling centres,” the CEC said.
“At every meeting with law enforcement agency members, we emphasise on recovering illegal arms and arresting criminals ... The situation would have improved had the two steps were implemented,” he said.
Rakibuddin thanked all concerned for their involvement in yesterday's “peaceful” voting.
About the allegation of the BNP, he said the party's allegations were of “general types”. Whenever the commission received any specific allegation, it gave directives to respective officials to look into that.
The BNP yesterday alleged that the EC was aware of the irregularities during the UP polls, but had not been taking any measures to prevent those.
“The EC is sleeping despite being aware of the irregularities which are taking place during the polls,” BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan told reporters after meeting with the CEC.
“It is useless to bring all these issues to the EC. They [the EC officials] have done nothing to stop election-related violence or took any action,” he said.
The Awami League yesterday said that apart from a few isolated incidents, the fifth phase of the UP polls was free and fair.
AL Joint General Secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif made the remarks at a press conference at AL President Sheikh Hasina's Dhanmondi office.