EC fails to get desired cooperation from local administration: CEC

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad today said the Election Commission does not get the level of cooperation it desires from the local administration in arranging elections. Star file photo

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad today said the Election Commission does not get the level of cooperation it desires from the local administration in arranging elections, causing polls violence and irregularities.

“We don’t have much authority over them. So, we don’t get desired cooperation from them. This is why such incidents occur,” he said, adding that the Commission needs to depend on manpower of other government departments for arranging election as a large number of manpower is needed for this.

The CEC made the remark at a briefing session at the Election Commission Secretariat ahead of elections in 721 Union Parishads billed for Tuesday.

Replying to a question as to what measures have been taken to stop violence as 10 people so far were killed in the first phase UP elections, Rakibuddin said that election-related violence in Bangladesh as well as the region, is always higher compared to developed countries, and they are having difficulty in bringing it down.

“In our country, election always unfortunately has been bearing scenario of violence and murder more or less. We have to overcome this culture as the nation. But it’s not a matter of a day…it will take time to build (democratic) tradition and culture.”

“Besides, the election has now become money-centered to a large extent. So the person having muscle power thinks that he is the most qualified candidate,” he said.

The CEC said special measures have been taken to prevent the stuffing of ballot boxes with fake votes cast on ballot papers on the eve of the first phase of the Union Parishad elections.

“Foolproof security measures have been taken for tonight at each polling station. Tough directives were given so that terrorists cannot stuff ballot papers at night. In case of illegal activity of any polling station, both the police official engaged at the polling station and officer in-charge of the police station concerned will be held responsible for this.”

If anyone, including election officials and members of law enforcement agencies, are seen to be negligent in performing duty, prompt action will be taken against the responsible person, he warned.

Issuing special directives to law enforcement agencies, the CEC asked them to prevent outsiders in election areas, arrest anarchists and the persons with illegal arms and ensure highest security for election materials and officials engaged in election duty.

Noting that more than 1,80,000 security members -- police, Rab, BGB, Coast Guard and Ansar-- remain deployed in election areas, he said the Commission has taken necessary measures so that every voter can exercise their voting rights spontaneously without any fear.

A monitoring cell, headed by UNO has been formed in each Upazila to monitor overall election situation, he added.

A total of five magistrates - four executive and one judicial magistrate- remain deployed in each Upazila to curb violation of election code of conduct.

In the meantime, seven people were sentenced to one-month imprisonment and 60 others were penalised a total of Tk 2.30 lakh in relation to violations of the polling code of conduct.

Besides, two separate cases were filed against an MP and a candidate, and showcause was issued against another MP, the CEC informed.

As part of the first phase election, 721 UPs are going to polls on Tuesday, while 11 other UPs on Wednesday and two others on March 27.

In the first phase election to 734 UP, over 1.19 crore voters will be eligible to exercise their franchise under nearly 6987 polling stations.

A total of 3043 candidates for chairman posts are in the election race, in addition to 7575 women candidates for reserved seats and over 25,000 contenders for member posts in the phase.