Almost half of the polling centres saw irregularities during the Gazipur City Corporation election held last Tuesday, said Election Working Group, a non-partisan network of 28 leading civil society organisations in Bangladesh, yesterday.
Speaking at a press briefing held on the election that saw Awami League's candidate win by a landslide margin, the election monitoring group said it found irregularities at 46.5 percent of the polling centres in the city.
The group came up with the observation by studying election at 129 centres among the total 425 centres across which the elections were held.
The irregularities they found include ballotbox stuffing, campaigning within 400 yards of polling centres, presence of unauthorised persons in the polling booths, incidents of violence, biased position of law enforcers, and bar on voters to cast votes.
Specific irregularities were found at 46.5 percent centres, said Dr Md Abdul Alim, director of Election Working Group. “61.9 percent votes were cast in the election,” he added.
EWG was formed in 2006 with the shared goal of enhancing transparency and accountability of elections and other democratic processes in the country.
The group observed presence of Awami League polling agents at 96.9 percent of the centres, and BNP polling agents at 81.4 percent of centres at the beginning of the polls. However, they acknowledged that they did not monitor how many polling agents were present throughout the day.
Polling agents lodged complaints during the counting process in 21 of the polling stations wehere EWG observed counting. In two polling stations in which EWG observed counting, observers reported that on the result sheets completed after the end of the counting process, the number of votes cast for a mayoral candidate was deliberately increased by polling officials. There were no BNP agents in these stations during counting, EWD observed.
Among others, Md Harun-Or-Rashid and prof Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah of EWD addressed the press conference.