Bangladesh goes to the poll on Sunday

Law enforcement officials gather to distribute EVMs to a voting centre ahead of the 11th general election in Dhaka on December 29, 2018. The general elections will be held on December 30.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

With a spate of violent incidents preceding Sunday’s elections and rumours fuelling fears of an escalation, Bangladesh’s Army chief, General Aziz Ahmed, has said that more than 50,000 personnel have been deployed so that everyone can vote freely.

Groups of armed men checked vehicles and drivers’ papers here through the day. After two days of unusual quiet on the streets of the capital city, with hardly any traffic, private vehicles were back on the roads, along with residents out shopping or discussing politics.

Massive deployment

The Army has carefully planned the security and safety of the voters, General Ahmed said.

“The Army is constantly moving from one place to another so that no one can intimidate anyone. Voters safety is the priority.” He was speaking at a temporary Army camp at Azimpur in old Dhaka. Officially, the Army is “helping” the civil administration to conduct the polls.

General Ahmed said he had “never witnessed such a peaceful election process in last 47 years”, and described the incidents of violence preceding the polls as “limited”.

Various units of the armed forces, including the auxiliary Ansar, the paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), and the special anti-terror force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the police have been deployed in large numbers.

“About five lakh Ansars, more than a lakh BGB personnel, about 11,000 RAB and 1.5 lakh of police force have been deployed in addition to the Army,” a security official said. Besides, there are village defence guards, a Bangladesh intelligence official said.

For the first time, electronic voting machines will replace ballot papers in six seats and 885 voting centres.

Opposition allegations

The chief of the Opposition’s rainbow coalition, Jatiyo Oikya Front (JOF), has published a list of candidates who have been attacked in the run-up to the polls. JOF chief Kamal Hossain said half of their 300 candidates “have been attacked” since December 10 by “supporters of Awami League and police”, including the woman candidate of Sirajgonj 2.

The Awami League has denied the allegations and party’s general secretary Obaidul Quader, said the Opposition was “frustrated … as they will not be getting more than 20-30 seats.”

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 12:57:18 AM |

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