EC suspends polls results of seven upazilas

January 28, 2009

Staff Correspondent
The Election Commission on Tuesday suspended the results of seven upazilas, although, according to sources, it found proof of irregularities, stuffing of ballot boxes, capturing of polling centres and intimidation in at least 41 upazilas.
The seven upazilas are Banchharampur in Brahmanbaria, Araihajar in Narayanganj, Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, Kaliganj in Gazipur, Mehendiganj in Barisal, Muradnagar in Comilla and Raipura in Narsingdi. Awami League backed candidates were declared elected chairmen in all seven upazials.
The commission during polling hours suspended elections to four, out of the 481 upazilas, on January 22. The upazilas are sadar in Brahmanbaria, Ramganj in Lakshmippur, Barura in Comilla and Belkuchi in Sirajganj.
The commission early January 22, eight hours before the polling, postponed elections to the Ukhia upazila parishad in Cox’s Bazar over the snatching of ballot boxes and papers.
The commission on January 15 suspended elections to the Dighinala upazila parishad in Khagrachari as a chairman candidate was forced to withdraw his candidature.
‘The commission has now also decided to suspend the publication of gazette notifications on the polls results of seven upazilas based on allegations of irregularities,’ election commissioner M Sakhawat Hossain said Tuesday.
He said the commission would launch investigation by judicial magistrates in connection with the allegations where results and elections were suspended or postponed. ‘A fully-fledged public inquiry will be carried out in the seven upazilas where poll results were suspended,’ he said.
Sakhawat also said the allegations against ministers and lawmakers for influencing the elections also will be investigated.
Asked when the investigation reports are expected, the commissioners declined to answer the question.
The Election Commission decided to suspend the polls results of seven upazilas on the second day of its looking into the complaints lodged by candidates.
The commission secretariat on Tuesday continued receiving complaints from defeated candidates in upazila elections. About 170 complaints have been lodged by candidates demanding re-elections to a number of polling centres or to all the centres in some cases.
Highly placed sources in the commission secretariat told New Age the commission till Monday had found missive irregularities, including stuffing of ballot boxes, capturing of polling centres, intimidation, tempering result sheets in at least 41 upazilas. The commission earlier in principle decided to cancel the results of 20 upazials and some centres in other upazilas, the sources said.
The upazila elections, marked by violence, intimidation, assaults and harassment of election officials, capturing of polling centres and stuffing and snatching of ballot boxes, had more than 71 per cent voter turnout, according to the Election Commission’s initial tally. Poll observers, election officials and voters observed such a high turnout could not match the reality.


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