Bangladesh election commission to start updating voter list
12:00 AM, July 18, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:41 AM, July 18, 2017

Voter roll updating starts Jul 25

EC to take special measures to prevent Rohingya enrolment

The Election Commission (EC) will start updating the voter list from July 25, taking some special measures to prevent Rohingyas from becoming voters.

Representatives of the EC will go door to door in each constituency until August 9 to collect information on prospective voters, Muhammad Abdullah, secretary of EC Secretariat, told journalists after coming out from a coordination meeting of the EC's central committee formed for updating the voter list held at the election secretariat.

He also said the commission has taken special measures for 30 Upazilas to prevent Rohingyas from becoming voters during the voter list updating programme.

“There are some special areas from where Rohingyas registered as voters. Earlier, 20 Upazilas were considered as special areas. But this year, we have defined 10 more Upazilas as special areas,” Abdullah said.

To become voters from these areas, people must show their own, their parents or their uncles or aunts' NID cards.

The EC Secretary said there are special committees in the 30 Upazilas to keep Rohingyas and other foreigners away from the electoral process.

Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali recently said in parliament that 20 to 25 percent people in Cox's Bazar are now Rohingyas and they are harming Bangladesh in many socio-economic, political and environmental aspects.

He said some 33,000 Rohingyas, registered as refugees, are living in two camps run by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cox's Bazar.

But it is estimated that some three to four lakh unregistered Myanmar citizens have been staying in as many as five districts, including Cox's Bazar, the foreign minister said.

Mahmood Ali said some 75,000 Myanmar citizens have entered Bangladesh since October 2016 till last month, following the military drives in Rakhine state.

There is an allegation that the Rohingyas, with the help of local people, managed to procure national ID cards and passports using which some even went abroad and got involved in activities that tarnished the international image of Bangladesh.

In 2010, the commission dropped the names of 45,866 Rohingyas after scrutinising the draft voter list in six upazilas of Cox's Bazar.

The next parliamentary election, scheduled to be held late next year, would be using the updated voter list.

 Replying to another query, the secretary said special initiatives were taken this time to increase female voters.

People born on or before January 1, 2000 will be qualified to become voters this time, he said.

The draft updated voter list will be published on January 2 next to receive and dispose of any complaints over it, if any, he said, adding that the commission will publish the final updated voter list on January 31.

Currently, there are over 10.14 crore voters in Bangladesh and the commission expects that some 35 lakh new voters will be included this year.

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