JANIPOP Observation Report on Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sangshad Elections 26, June 2010 Part-2


ELECTION REPORTS ON

BANGLADESH MUKTIJODDHA SANGSHAD ELECTIONS 2010

Compilation & Report Drafting By:

Advocate Itrat Amin

Founder Member & National Trainer

JANIPOP

Dr.A.K.M Reazul Hassan

National Volunteer JANIPOP

Dr. NAsir Uddin

International Observer , JANIPOP

Edited By:

Professor Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah

Founder & Chairman, JANIPOP

JANIPOP Election Observation Report on

Muktijoddha Sangshad Elections

June 26, 2010

Pre Election Scenario

For the first time in the history of Muktijoddha Sangshad formal direct election schedule was announced on 18 April, 2010. High stature election commission was formed headed by the Cabinet Secretary of the Government involving altogether five members. Budget was allocated to the tune of more than Taka 2 Crores and 70 Lacs for meeting the expenses of the conduction of the countrywide election. Altogether three full panels and several independent candidates took part in the election. Candidates seeking office of Central Command Council, District Command and Upazilla Command contested the elections on 26 June 2010. As a result, ballot papers were of three types bearing three different colors – white for Central Command Council, Yellow for District Command and Blue for Upazilla Command – and in the polling stations, three different types of ballot boxes were placed for smooth conduction of the elections. Each voter had to cast 69 votes – 41 for Central, 17 for Districts and 11 for Upazilla Command. The ballot paper was a long one containing different symbols against the candidates’ names. The Commission decided to use the old ballot boxes made of iron instead of translucent plastic ones. The built-in passageway for casting ballots of the iron boxes was quite narrow which prompted many poll officials and polling agents to accept non-sealing of ballot boxes which was a deviation from the standard practice.

The Election Commission concerned did not try to prepare a voter roll with photographs, in many cases, which resulted in confusion. The code of conduct and the instruction for the poll officials was not clear enough with reference to establishment of identity of the voters. Only Assistant Returning Officer of Dhaka District tried to redress this lacuna. Office of the Assistant Returning Officer of Dhaka took the initiative of publishing black and white poster where it was stated that the voters would have to bring National ID Cards or any other valid document in order to prove the identity of the individual voter concerned. Only at New Model High School Polling Station in Dhaka City, the Presiding Officer Mr. Abul Bashar Fakruzzaman tried to enforce this dictum, although he had to face resistance from the electorate. Throughout the country, Presiding Officers and other poll officials did not try to check the identity of the voters on case-by-case basis, because the instruction in the code of conduct was only directed towards those voters who had migrated from one polling station to another.

The contesting panels and their respective candidates lodged complaints to the election commission regarding non-compliance of several facets of the code of conduct. There were wide spread allegations of claiming blessings of the head of the government and the party in power in favor of a particular panel. The Election Commission issued cautionary note to the offenders. Concerned candidates either denied or disowned the responsibility.

As per the Guide Book on Preparation of Voter Roll and Directives for Conduction of Election issued by the Election Commission 2010, issues relating to pre-election irregularities, clause 31, a panel led by Ahad Choudhury lodged 7 written complaints to the Chief Election Commissioner on violation of rules laid down in clauses 24 (E & F) and clause 25 (C). Those irregularities were subject to the jurisdiction of clause 31 of the Guide. However, these issues could have been handled appropriately by enforcing the directive vide clause 32. Since the complaints were not attended to in totality and in absence of public hearing the electoral process was in flaw from the outset.

Area Coverage

JANIPOP team headed by Professor Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, the Chairman and Founder, observed the Mukijoddha Sangshad Elections in 63 Districts out of 64 (A list of observers is in the annexure-1). Elections in plain Districts as well as hill Districts came under the purview of JANIPOP observers. They were placed on a stationary basis in 68 polling stations out of 479. Following the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action, JANIPOP deployed ethnic, female and male as well as differently able observers. In this observation mission, JANIPOP covered polling stations in City Corporation areas such as Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi and Barisal. Moreover, polling stations in District Head Quarters such as Sherpur, Kishorgonj, Gazipur, Netrokona, Gopalgonj, and Rangpur were also kept under the observation net. Furthermore, Upazilla based polling stations in Chunarughat, Bianibazar, Kashba, Hazigonj, Bhaluka, Sreepur, Jajira, Borhanuddin, Sonatola, Chouddagram, Araihazar, Raipur, Shibchar, Akkelpur, Belkuchi, Kaukhali, Shakhipur, etc.

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