EC, law enforcers praise each other
Though widespread violence and loss of dozens of lives marked the first two phases of union parishad polls, the Election Commission and the law enforcement agencies have praised each other for their respective roles.
They say both sides played "efficient roles" in holding the polls in "a free, fair and peaceful manner".
According to media reports, at least 33 people were killed and over a thousand injured in the electoral violence in 1,364 UPs that went to polls on March 22 and 31.
However, when the high-ups of the EC and different law enforcement bodies sat at the commission's meeting room yesterday, they were full of praises for each other, meeting sources told The Daily Star.
The meeting was held to discuss law and order ahead of the next phases of election to the lowest tier of the local government.
Elections are due in 621 UPs on April 23, in 743 on May 7, and in around 1,400 more in two other phases till June.
The EC faced massive criticism from the media, civil society, different political parties and cross section of people for its alleged failure to curb violence and irregularities in the two phases of the polls, held on party lines for the first time.
But at yesterday's meeting, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad said police and other law enforcers were sincere in maintaining law and order during the elections, according to meeting sources.
Similarly, Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque said the EC took some bold and effective steps against those who violated electoral laws and were involved in irregularities.
The CEC, however, directed the law enforcers to remain more alert in the next phases to prevent recurrence of the incidents that took place in the earlier spells.
"The law enforcers must keep vigil to prevent ballot stuffing at night before the polling, capturing polling stations and obstructing any aspirants in filing nomination papers," the CEC was quoted as saying in the meeting.
Benazir Ahmed, director general of the Rapid Action Battalion, suggested the EC sit with the political parties to discuss ways to curb violence.
The EC, however, did not respond to the suggestion, said meeting sources.
Four election commissioners, chiefs of the Border Guard Bangladesh, Coast Guard and Ansar-VDP forces and senior EC officials, among others, attended the meeting.
The law enforcers have been directed to take more effective steps to ensure that the next phases of the UP polls are held in "a fairer manner" than the previous phases, said the CEC.
"We have discussed how we can take more effective measures in the next phases of the polls, keeping in mind the experiences of the previous two phases of the elections," Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad told reporters after the meeting.
The incidents of loss of lives in shooting by law enforcers during the past elections were being investigated, he said.
The EC was working on introducing an online system for submission of the nomination papers in the next phases of the polls, the CEC added.