By Mizan Rahman
Terming the present environment in Bangladesh very election-friendly, chief election commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad yesterday said no situation has arisen so far that requires deployment of army ahead of the December 30 municipal
“The overall situation is under control of them (regular law enforcement agencies). There’s no tension anywhere,” he said.
The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) informed the commission that they have adequate forces and they will deploy them during the election.
The CEC made the remark after a co-ordination meeting of the election commission (EC) with law enforcement agencies and local administrations over security measures to be taken for the countrywide municipal elections.
The chiefs of police, RAB, BGB, Coast Guard and Ansar as well as different intelligence agencies, representatives from the armed forces division, divisional commissioners, deputy commissioners, superintendents of police and returning officers joined the meeting.
Four election commissioners - Mohammad Abdul Mobarak, Abu Hafiz, Md Zabed Ali and Shah Nawaz- and EC Secretary Sirazul Islam - were also present at the meeting.
Talking about the election atmosphere, the CEC said the law enforcement agencies and local administrations informed the election commission that the situation is still very friendly for elections.
He said the commission exchanged views with all at the meeting and assessed the field-level situation. “We’ll take measures and deploy law enforcers on the basis of that
assessment,” he said.
Rakibuddin said the commission was informed that there is nothing to be worried about the field situation as everything is fine there. “All are now election oriented. They (candidates) are conducting electioneering amid enthusiasm following the election
code of conduct,” he said.
Replying to a question, the CEC said militancy issue also came up at the meeting for discussion. “We can say everything is under control due to massive drives and prompt actions by law enforcement agencies.”
About violation of polls code, Rakibuddin said the commission has directed all, especially the returning officers, to investigate any complaint, no matter who files it, and take action
“As they (returning officers) are in the field, they’ll take action immediately and inform us. We asked the returning officers to report us (over violation of polls code) every day,” he said.
Turning to vulnerable polling stations, the CEC said the commission has taken measures to deploy extra force for the vulnerable centres, but yet to finalise the list of such polling stations.
In reply to a query over media access to polling stations, he said the commission has instructed the participants to be careful to avoid misunderstanding with journalists.
The journalists, having passes provided by the EC, will have the access to the polling stations,
The CEC asked the media people to be careful so that voting is not hampered for their long stay.
On November 24, the election commission announced the election schedule for 234 municipalities out of the
country’s 323 ones.
According to statistics provided by the commission, a total of 12,045 candidates - 923 mayoral, 8,589 general councillor and 2,533 women councillor contenders in reserved seats - are contesting the polls in the 234 municipalities across the country.
By Mizan Rahman