4th phase UP polls end, EC claims elections relatively better

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Dhaka, May 7: The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday claimed that the fourth phases of the Union Parishad (UP) polls were ‘relatively better’ then the previous three phases despite reports of violence and suspension of casting votes in over 10 poll centres so far.

The 4th phases polls held in around 703 UPs in 47 districts which ended at 4pm on Saturday.

The EC had held a meeting to discuss the overall scenario in UP polls at its Commission office.

“It is true that some stray incidents took place this time as well, but the number of incidents was fewer than that of the previous phases,” Election Commissioner Abu Hafiz told reporters after the meeting at the EC Secretariat.

He also claimed that the 4th phase UP elections was comparatively fairer than the previous ones.

The authorities have suspended voting in at least 12 polling centres due to clashes and rigging like vote fraud, he added.

Clashes have been reported from several places. In Comilla, a person was hacked to death in front of a voting centre while a police officer was shot during a clash in Feni.

Another policeman sustained severe injuries in Munshiganj.

“We wanted an election free of malpractices, so that no polling stations have to suspend voting, but that happened in some places,” the Election Commissioner said.

“Voting at seven centres in Chittagong’s Hathazari had to be suspended. More reports are coming in. The scenario is very bad,” he added.Voters in Bogra

Polls observers say, despite the EC’s move against malpractices, concerns remain over violence.

“Any kind of violence is not expected during the polls, the EC and law enforces are supposed to ensure that,” National Election Observer Council (Janipop) Chairman Prof Najmul Ahsan Kalimullah said.

A total of 3,245 chairmen candidates are contesting in the fourth phase of polls. Of them, 724 belong to Awami League, 619 to BNP, 156 to Jatiya Party, 42 to Jatiya Samajtantrik Dak (JSD) and 154 to Islami Andalon.

Out of 725 unions, chairmen have been elected uncontested in 33 unions. All of the elected were Awami League candidates. So far, the number of Awami League supported chairmen elected uncontested reached 150.

Since the schedule for the UP election was announced on February 11, at least 70 people have lost their lives to poll-related violence.

The ruling Awami League claims the polls to be credible while the BNP alleges of widespread irregularities.

According to the EC, voter turnout has been 74 percent, 78 percent and 76 percent respectively for the first three phases.

The Awami League has secured as many as 494 chairman posts while the BNP has managed only 50 in the first phase.

Independent candidates won 109 UP posts and another 54 Awami League candidates were declared winners without a contest in the same round of polls.