Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Electioneering ends tonight

Khadimul Islam
Electioneering for the December 29 general elections ends at midnight past today and the Election Commission imposed a ban on the plying of motorcycles across the country from same time.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson, Khaleda Zia, will conclude her formal electioneering with a rally in Paltan Maidan in Dhaka this afternoon while her archrival Awami League president Sheikh Hasina will wind up her election campaigns with a rally in Laldighi Maidan in Chittagong at the same time.
The Election Commission has so far completed preparation, including dispatch of ballot papers for all but Comilla 10 out of the 299 electoral constituencies.
The commission is yet to make the final decision on whether it would stick to its latest decision on announcing Mobashwer Alam Bhuyian as the BNP candidate for the Comilla 10 constituency.
The commission kept pending the announcement on the appeal of the BNP’s first choice for the constituency Abdul Gafur Bhuiyan, whose nomination was validated by court.
Gafur was given the BNP’s election symbol of paddy sheaf by the returning officer and the commission later scrapped his nomination paper. Gafur asked the commission to explain why his election symbol of paddy sheaf was scrapped in the past week.
One thousand, five hundred and fifty-five candidates of 39 political parties are contesting the polls for 299 constituencies. The elections to the Noakhali 1 constituency have been suspended because of the death of the Awami League-led alliance candidate, Ganatantri Party chief Nurul Islam, for the constituency.
About 13 lakh people including 5,66,537 polling officers, 4.25 lakh Ansars members, and 2 lakh personnel of law enforcement agencies were readied for polls duty, the commission officials said.
According to a commission release, the commission has imposed restrictions on the plying of auto-rickshaws, taxicabs, microbuses, jeeps, pickups, cars, buses, trucks, human haulers, launches, and all mechanised boats between midnight past Sunday and midnight past Monday. The release said the ban would not be applicable to vehicles plying highways.
It said the ban had been imposed on taxicabs, microbuses, jeeps, pickups only for metropolitan areas.
The release, however, said the ban would not be applicable to authorised and identified local and foreign election observers and journalists, employees on election duty, members of the law enforcement agencies, ambulances and the vehicles engaged in electricity, gas, telephone and postal services.
The commission has extended the time limit for electioneering by 16 hours as the contestants did not get enough time for electioneering because of the state of emergency and extended the deadline till midnight past Saturday.
The EC Secretariat has directed the returning officers to allow political parties and candidates to campaign till midnight past December 27.
‘A ban has been imposed on conducting electioneering, holding meetings, joining processions from Saturday midnight to December 31 midnight across the country, including the metropolitan areas,’ said a commission release. This ban will remain in force for 48 hours after the elections, the commission said requesting all concerned to go by the directives.
Although the government appointed 286 judicial magistrates on election duties to deal with electoral offences and conduct summary trial in the 299 parliamentary constituencies, the district administration allegedly are not cooperating with judicial magistrates.
Judicial magistrates from different constituencies informed the EC secretariat of the non-cooperation of district administration and sought commission’s directive in this regards.
As the Supreme Court rejected the move of both the home ministry and Election Commission to invest executive magistrates with powers to try electoral offences during the December 29 general elections, the commission sent a requisition letter to the government seeking judicial magistrates.
The law and parliamentary affairs ministry assigned the judicial magistrates and sent a list of 286 such magistrates to the commission six hours inside the commission’s requisition.
The commission formed a special cell to keep watch on law and order as it does not want to waste time waiting for information from the law enforcement agencies.
The Arms Forces Division has informed the Election Commission of its limitation in reaching 204 polling stations in 13 upazilas which are within eight kilometres of the Indian border.
The division suggested the commission should deploy members of the Bangladesh Rifles with the help of he army or communicate India’s Border Security Force though the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters for the deployment of troops in the areas.


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