Nation goes to polls today

December 29, 2008

Massive security measures for 9th JS elections
Staff Correspondent

EC completes preparations for election. Photo : Banglar Chokh

EC completes preparations for election. Photo : Banglar Chokh

Displaying a landmark progress in the quest for “a government of the people, by the people and for the people”, the nation goes to polls today (Monday) to elect the 9th parliament amid massive security measures as two key rivals Awami League led-grand alliance and BNP led four-party alliance and other political parties and independent candidates put their popularity to test in the battle of ballot.
Meanwhile, the government, the Election Commission and political leaders have completed all their preparations for the parliamentary elections. Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed and Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda addressed the nation. Their addresses were aired in the state-run radio and television in connection with the upcoming 9th parliamentary elections.
Top leaders from both the Awami League-led grand alliance, BNP-led four-party alliance and other political parties and independent candidates, converged on their respective constituencies bearing in mind that the polls would be a turning point in determining the next course of national politics.
The non-stop eight-hour voting begins at 8:00am across the country with 8,10,58,698 registered voters, most of whom are expected to cast votes to elect their 299 representative in the parliament. Election to Noakhali-1 seat has been postponed till January following the death of a candidate. One significant aspect of this year’s election is that the situation is relatively peaceful for polls in which about 1.6 crore voters are supposed to cast their votes for the first time.
Ballot boxes and ballot papers have been dispatched to the polling centres. Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers and Polling Officers are already in their respective places of duty. The day has been declared a public holiday to help the electorate to cast votes. A total of 35,315 polling centres have been set up. A total of 5,67,000 election officials including presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and polling officers have been appointed to conduct the election.
A total of 1,555 candidates including 53 female are vying for 299 posts of lawmakers, but the main contest will be limited to Awami League-led grand alliance and BNP-led four-party alliance. Out of 1,555 some 263 candidates from Awami League, 259 from BNP, 48 from Jatiya Party, 39 from Jamaat and 148 candidates are independent. And the rest are contesting from other political parties. The electoral symbol of Awami League is ‘boat’ that of BNP is ’sheaf of paddy’, Jatiya Party is ‘plough’ and of Jamaat is ’scales’. A total of 8,10,58,698 including 4,12,00000 female are expected to cast their votes in favour of the respective candidates. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina is contesting from three constituencies, BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia from three and Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad from three.
An unprecedented security blanket has been clamped across the country to ensure a violence-free, fair and neutral poll. Nearly 600,000 security personnel, including 50,000 army, 80,507 police 4,66,000 RAB, Armed Police and Ansar, have been deployed throughout the country. Around two lakh local and over 500 foreign observers monitor today’s election throughout the country.
BDR sources said the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles will be deployed independently in 70 out of 87 frontier upazilas and with Army in 16 frontier upazilas to avoid any subversive or criminal activities. Navy will be deployed to maintain security at coastal Teknaf upazila in Cox’s Bazaar.
While visiting different areas of the capital, Zamaluddin, a resident at Maghbazar, told this correspondent “Much security measures have been taken. I along with my family decided to go to vote centre today to cast our votes freely. I am seeing that the security measures taken by the EC for general poll this year are better than the past.”
It may be mentioned that law enforces had been deployed on December 20 to make the country’s law and order situation favourable for election throughout the country.


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