The city corporation elections are not credible due to malpractices and irregularities, said the Election Working Group (EWG), a non-partisan network of 28 leading civil society organisations in Bangladesh. In a preliminary statement on the three city corporation elections published today, the EWG said despite adequate polling operations in many of the stations observed, the integrity of the overall process was undermined by the scale of violations observed.
It also said the transparency of the process was damaged by the significant hurdles observation groups faced in receiving accreditation and deploying observers. In the statement, the EWG said among the polling stations observed, police were deployed at all polling stations, 79 percent of the stations were found to be prepared with necessary equipment, while 90 percent were opened on time.
Problems with accessibility and poor layout of polling booths were reported in 24 percent of observed polling stations of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC), 39 percent in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and 19 percent in Chittagong City Corporation (CCC).
Protests or objections by polling agents during vote counting were reported in 12 percent of observed stations in DSCC, 5 percent in DNCC and 21 percent in CCC, while the hanging of poll results as required by law was not undertaken in 14 percent stations observed across the three city corporations.
Meanwhile, 26 EWG observers (DSCC-15, DNCC-6 and CCC-5) were not allowed to enter into polling stations on the Election Day, 37 observers were ousted from polling stations, and 138 were not allowed to observe the counting, the statement said. The EWG also claimed that the Election Commission had issued instructions that restricted observer movement to particular wards in Dhaka south.
Meanwhile, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) expressed frustration over the extent of irregularities and rigging. Condemning the widespread vote rigging, violence and obstruction towards balloting at different polling stations during the city polls, the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has said the Election Commission (EC) and law enforcement agencies have failed to hold credible and peaceful elections. Besides, it observed, the opposition parties have created a new risk in restoring a healthy atmosphere in the country’s political landscape by ‘controversially boycotting the city elections halfway through the polls’.
In a statement on Wednesday, TIB executive director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said as massive irregularities occurred in the city polls under political shelter flexing muscle, acceptability of the elections has became questionable. “We’re concerned since the EC, as a constitutional body, has failed to play its neutral and independent role in holding the elections. The EC itself has fallen in an embarrassing situation by not taking effective steps despite creditable information of vote rigging.
“The Commission has not only failed to play its due role but also tainted its image by showing political biasness,” he added. Dr Iftekhar urged all the political parties to demonstrate political tolerance and exercise democratic practices to maintain peace and discipline in public life.