Voting in 97 upazilas Wednesday in first phaseNew Age Online
Amid huge enthusiasm among locals, 97 upazilas in 40 districts are going to polls on Wednesday in the first of the staggered local body elections, UNB reported.
The voting will open at 8:00am and continue till 4:00pm without any break.
The Election Commission has already completed all the necessary preparations for the voting in the upazila parishads, Election Commissioner Md Shah Nawaz told UNB on Tuesday evening.
‘The law enforcement agencies have been asked to take special security measures for the members of the minority community so that they can cast their votes without any fear,’ he said.
Shah Nawaz hoped Wednesday’s election will be free, fair and peaceful.
A total of 1259 candidates are contesting the election against 291 posts in the 97 upazilas. Of them, 429 are chairman candidates and 505 vice chairman contenders, and 325 vice chairman candidates for the post set aside for women.
There are 1,62,15,437 voters — 80,81,384 males and 81,54,053 females — who can exercise their franchise in 42756 booths of 6889 polling stations in the 97 upazilas.
Alongside regular law enforcers, army personnel are working as a striking force to maintain an election-friendly environment in the areas. Each upazila has got a platoon of army members (34 members), EC secretariat sources said.
As part of special security measures for the minority community, the Election Commission relieved some 590 election officials on the basis of reports of intelligent agencies, according to the EC secretariat sources.
A team of 14-16 security men will guard each polling station.
Though only four foreign observers watched the January 5 parliamentary elections, 71 foreign observers registered their names to observe the first phase upazila elections, said an official concerned at the EC secretariat.
Of them, 54 are from the US embassy, nine from Japan, six from NDI, and two from the Asia Foundation.
Besides, 6589 observers of 26 organisations will monitor the voting, she added.
As many as 388 magistrates — 291 executive magistrates and 97 judicial magistrates – will lead mobile courts in the election areas with a view to curbing any possible violence and violation of polls codes.
The 97 upazilas are Ulipur Fulbari and Bhurangamari in Kurigram, Bheramara and Kushtia Sadar in Kushtia, Karimganj, Nikli and Bajitpur in Kishoreganj, Koyra and Dighilia in Khulna, Panchhari, Mohalchhari, Matiranga, Manikchhari and Ramgar in Khagrachhari, Saghata and Gabindaganj in Gaibandha, Kapasia in Gazipur, Kashiyani and Maksudpur in Gopalganj, Mirsarai and Hathazari in Chittagong, Nachole in Chapainawabganj, Sarishabari and Jamalpur Sadar in Jamalpur, Kaliganj, Kotchandpur and Shailakupa and Jhenidah Sadar in Jhenidah, Dohar and Nababganj in Dhaka, Kaharol and Khansama in Dinajpur, Mahadevpur and Raninagar in Noagaon, Kalia in Narail, Polash and Belabo in Narsingdi, Singra in Natore, Jaldhaka, Dimla and Syedpur in Nilphamari, Durgapur and Kendua in Netrakona, Boda, Atoyari, Panchagar Sadar and Debiganj in Panchagar, Santhia, Sujanagar and Atgharia in Pabna, Dupchachia, Sariakandi, Dhanut, Nandigram, Sherpur and Sonatala of Bogra, Gouranadi and Bakerganj in Barisal, Lalmohan in Bhola, Shreepur and Magura Sadar in Magura, Kalkini in Madaripur, Doulatpur, Singair, Saturia and Shibalaya in Manikganj, Meherpur Sadar, Kulaura in Moulvibazar, Avoynagar in Jessore, Taraganj and Mithapukur in Rangpur, Baliakandi, Rajbari Sadar and Pancha in Rajbari, Mohanpur in Rajshahi, Bhederganj, Jajira and Damudya of Shariatpur, Dakkhin Sunamganj, Doyarabazar and Chhatak in Sunamganj, Ashashuni in Satkhira, Kazipur, Rayganj, Sirajganj Sadar and Ullapara in Sirajganj, Biswanath, Jakiganj, Companiganj, Golapganj, Goainhat and Jaintapur in Sylhet, Bahubal and Madhabpur in Habiganj.
Over 1,25,000 election officials — 6995 presiding officers, 43290 assistant presiding officers and 86580 polling officials — will be on the election duty.
On January 19, the EC announced election schedules for 102 upazilas and subsequently postponed polls of Pirganj in Rangpur to February 24, while suspended elections in four upazilas — Rangpur Sadar, Gangachhara, Pirgachha, and Kawnia in Rangpur — due to delimitation complexities.
Besides, the EC in the first four phases declared polls schedules for 380 upazilas out of the country’s 387 upazilas.
The second phase polls in 117 upazilas will be held on February 27, while the 3rd phase polls in 83 upazilas on March 15 and the 4th phase polls in 92 upazilas on March 23.
The EC has a plan to announce the fifth phase election schedules for nearly 80-90 more upazila parishads this week, and the elections are likely to be held there at the end of March.
As part of the countrywide 4th upazila election, the commission will also arrange elections in a few more upazilas after the HSC examination scheduled to be held in April and May next.
The last countrywide upazila elections were held on January 22, 2009.
The upazila parishad system was introduced in 1982 and the first upazila elections were held in 1985, while the second polls in 1990. But the then BNP government after assuming power in 1991 annulled the upazila parishad system.
The Awami League government restored the system in 1996, but the third upazila elections were held in 2009 after 19 years of its reintroduction.
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