Stray violence marks 4th-phase municipal polls

AL gets 32 mayors, BNP 1 among 37

Staff Correspondent

15 February, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Awami League mayoral candidates were going to win by a brute majority the fourth-phase elections to 55 municipalities that were held on Sunday amid stray incidents of violence, leaving one person dead and several others injured.

As per the unofficial results of 37 municipalities, ruling party won 32 while its arch-rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) took only one in the battle of ballots.

Besides, independent candidates came out victorious in four municipalities.

Voting in the fourth phase of the local body polls was marred by stray incidents of violence.

In Chattogram, the brother of a councillor candidate was killed in a clash between supporters of two contestants in Patiya municipality election.

The deceased was identified as Abdul Mabud, 52, younger brother of councillor contender Abdul Mannan from ward 8 of the municipality.

Rezaul Karim Majumder, officer-in-charge of Patiya Police Station, said the followers of councillor candidates Mannan and Sarwar Kamal locked into a skirmish at South Gobinderkhil Govt Primary School centre around 12:30pm.

“Mabud was stabbed during the clash. He was taken to Patiya Health Complex where he succumbed to his wounds,” he said.

Protesting the killing, Mannan’s supporters set an Ansar camp on fire in the area.

Meanwhile, police detained one person over the clash and additional forces were deployed in the area to fend off further trouble, the OC said.

Besides, a chase and counter-chase took place amid an explosion of crude bombs between the supporters of two councillor candidates     

 during the election in Chandanaish municipality.

In Tangail, at least 10 people were injured in a clash between the supporters of Awami League and BNP mayoral candidates in Kalihati municipality. Witnesses said the clash took place at Haripur Govt Primary School centre over a trifling matter.

A chase and counter-chase took place between the two groups, leaving 10 from the both sides injured.

In Noakhali, a clash took place between the supporters of two councillors at a polling centre during the Sonaimuri municipality election.

Besides, crude bombs were blasted during the melee.

Meanwhile, opposition parties alleged massive irregularities in the polls, including vote rigging.

The ruling party, however, brushed aside such allegations, saying elections were held in a peaceful manner.

Election Commission (EC) Secretary Md Humayun Kabir Khandaker also said they were satisfied with the municipality polls. “Voting was held in a peaceful manner in 55 municipalities across the country except some stray incidents,” he said.

About the Chattogram clash that left one person dead, he said, “It’s really sad news that one was killed in Patiya. We don't expect this to happen. The clash took place outside the polling station. This hasn’t affected the voter turnout. The voting was held peacefully.”

The EC postponed voting to seven centres in the three municipalities due to violence and irregularities while balloting to the rest of 503 polling centres as held peacefully, Kabir added. “We think voting was good according to the hourly reports sent by the returning officers as well as reports published by the media,” he said.

The voting started at 8am and ended at 4pm in the 55 municipalities.

Electronic voting machines were used in 29 municipalities while traditional ballot papers in the remaining ones.

Although several parties took part in the elections, the main contest was supposed to be held between the candidates of ruling Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). There were 217 candidates for mayoral posts while 2,070 for general councillor and 618 for reserved councillor posts in the election race.

Executive and judicial magistrates were on the ground along with members of law enforcement agencies, including police, Rapid Action Battalion, Border Guard Bangladesh and Ansar, to oversee the voting process. There are a total of 329 municipalities in Bangladesh. The Election Commission is holding elections to these municipalities in phases this time due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first-phase elections to 24 municipalities were held on December 28 last while 60 municipalities went to polls in the second phase on January 16 and 62 municipalities in the third phase on January 30.

The fifth-phase elections to 31 municipalities are scheduled to be held on February 28.