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EWG monitors find

Polls irregularities in 46.5 pc centres

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Staff Reporter :
Election Working Group (EWG), an alliance of election observing bodies, has found irregularities in 46.5 percent of the polling centres during the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) elections.
Speaking in a press briefing the election monitoring group said that it found irregularities at 46.5 percent of the polling centres in the Gazipur city polls. The election result saw landslide victory for Al candidate Jahangir.
The EWG members monitored the preparation and opening of the polling stations, vote casting and procedures, the environment inside the polling stations and the counting of ballots papers after closure.
Trained observers intensively joined the monitoring process after selecting the polling stations randomly from the Election Commission gazette.
The irregularities they found included ballot stuffing, campaigning within 400 yards of polling centres, presence of unauthorized persons in the polling booths, incidents of violence, biase role of the law enforcers, and bar on voters to cast votes.
Specific irregularities were found at 46.5 percent centres, said Dr Md Abdul Alim, Director of Election Working Group.
He further said, "Polling agents were not allowed to enter some centres and the agents were driven out from some stations. Our teams also observed violence inside and outside some polling booths and presence of officials of different law enforcement agencies for working in favour of certain candidate."

The EWG is a non-partisan network of 28 leading civil society organisations in Bangladesh  that was formed in 2006 with the common goal of enhancing the transparency and accountability of elections and other democratic processes in the country.
The election monitoring group came up with the observation by studying election at 129 centres among the total 425 centres across which the elections were held.
The group observed presence of Awami League polling agents in the 96.9 percent of the centres and BNP polling agents in the 81.4 percent of centers in the beginning of the polls.
UNB adds: In its statement, the watchdog group mentioned, "In one polling station in Ward No 32, it was observed that approximately five voters were not given the mayor ballot papers around 11 am. At the same time, BNP polling agents were also kicked out of the station. At the same station, an EWG observer viewed ballot stuffing around 1pm and saw police taking lunch provided by a mayor candidate."
They also produced three more incidents as examples of violation of election rules.
The group observed the presence of Awami League polling agents at 96.9 percent of the centers while BNP polling agents at 81.4 percent.
According to them, the Gazipur election was not fairer than Rangpur City Corporation.
The election watchdog said also the EC needs to be more active to overcome the faults in the upcoming national election.
The EWG also said that its full report along with the recommendations will be submitted to the Election Commission.
Prof Dr Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Md Abdul Awal and Md Harun-or-Rasid and some other members of the body were present at the press conference.

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