Election Observation Report on Chittagong City Corporation Elections, June 2010 Part -1

JANIPOP Observation Report on

Chittagong City Corporation Elections

17 June, 2010

Compilation and Report Drafting by:

Advocate Itrat Amin

Founder Member & National Trainer

JANIPOP

Dr. A.K.M. Reazul Hassan

National Observer, JANIPOP

Md. Mohiuddin

Divisional Coordinator, JANIPOP

Chittagong Division

Edited by:

Professor Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah

Founder & Chairman, JANIPOP

Address:

JANIPOP- Jatiya Nirbachon Parjobekkhon Parishad

(National Election Observation Council)

Lily Arcade (3rd Floor), 74, Laboratory Road

Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1205, Bangladesh

Phone: 8625771 (Office), 8126172 (Res.)

Mobile: 01711-531652, Fax: 88-02-8143788

E-mail: janipop1995@gmail.com, janipop1@yahoo.com

Web: www.janipop.org

The report is available for study and research at JANIPOP National Secretariat. Interested readers can contact JANIPOP Chair for the availability of hard copy of this report. JANIPOP claims the copyright of all its documents and reports. No part of this report and the above-mentioned report can be photocopied, translated, or reproduced, without the prior permission of JANIPOP.

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                2

Pre Election Scenario                                                                                2

Area Coverage                                                                                         3

Methodology of Observation                                                                4

Highlights of the Election Day                                                                5

Poll Logistics and Security Arrangements                               5

Presence of Authorized Polling Agents                                   5

Accessibility                                                                         6

Electronic Voting                                                               6

Electoral Environment                                                     7

Party Camps                                                                                   7

Enthusiasm                                                                          7

Domestic and International Observers                                  7

Intelligence Outfit of Bangladesh Election Commission                7

Representatives from the Media                                              8

Post Election Scenario                                                                              8

Special Feature of the Elections                                                           9

Conclusions                                                                                                 9

Recommendations                                                                                   10

Annexure-1: List of Observers                                                     11

Annexure-2: Number of Voters by Ward                                             12

Executive Summary

JANIPOP planned to observe the Chittagong City Corporation elections , held on June 17, 2010 in three phases namely Pre Election, Election Day, and Post Election events on a mobile basis deploying altogether six teams of observers.  It was found that in the pre election period, two court cases were filed. In addition, CDA chairman, was asked to explain why he took part in campaigning in favor of a particular candidate. Introduction of mobile court created fear in the minds of the perpetrators.

The contesting candidates submitted their nomination papers on or before 20 May 2010. Nomination papers were scrutinized on 22 & 23 May 2010. On 1 June 2010 candidature was finalized. A total of 18 nomination papers were submitted for one mayoral post while 67 for 14 women reserved seats and 322 for 41 councilor posts to the Returning Officer (RO). Scrutinizing those, the RO rejected 5 applications for mayoral post, 3 for reserved seats and 45 for councilor positions.

The pre-election scenario was almost peaceful. The election commission was quite assertive in enforcing adherence to electoral code of conduct. The RO concerned played a pivotal role in ensuring the display of the BEC’s independence.

JANIPOP observed around 200 polling stations out of 673 with reference to Chittagong City Corporation Elections. The newly introduced colored arm badges of the polling agents were visible and were very useful for the voters to identify the agents.

JANIPOP is of the opinion that E-voting is faster, easier, and transparent compared to the old fashioned ones. JANIPOP thinks that more training is required for E-voting and this system should be gradually introduced to get the full benefit of the system.

The overall turnout was low compared to August 2008 City Corporation Elections throughout the country. The overall election environment was peaceful and the role of the RO and her colleagues were praise worthy. The electorate of the city corporation was very cooperative in maintaining the election environment. The contending candidates followed the electoral code of conduct as much as possible.

Finally, JANIPOP is of the opinion that the CCC election 2010 was held in a free, fair and impartial manner. The BEC has carried out a commendable job. Therefore, the CCC election can be termed as a model one.

JANIPOP Election Observation Report on

Chittagong City Corporation Elections

June 17, 2010

Introduction

JANIPOP- Jatiya Nirbachan Parjobekkhon Parishad is one of the leading election observation organizations in Bangladesh. From its inception in 1995, JANIPOP has successfully observed National Parliamentary Elections, union Parishad elections, Upazilla Elections,  City Corporation Elections, by-Elections, and Re-Elections, etc. Additionally, JANIPOP has been observing the Elections of Federation of Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) for years together. Lately, JANIPOP has observed the Muktijoddha Sangshad Elections 2010 throughout the country on 26 June 2010. On the other hand, JANIPOP members observed the national and local level elections of USA, UK, Hong Kong, Egypt, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal.

JANIPOP planned to observe the Chittagong City Corporation elections in three phases viz. Pre Election, Election Day, and Post Election scenario. This report will primarily focus on the overall election process including the adherence to election code of conduct as directed by the Election Commission. In addition, after analyzing observation notes collected from six mobile teams, an attempt has been made to describe and depict the electoral environment on the Election Day and put some recommendations for further improvement of the election process of such kind.

Pre election scenario

Jesmin Tuli – Deputy Secretary and the Returning Officer for CCC election 2010 stayed in Chittagong continuously for 39 days. She arrived in Chittagong on 11May and continued to stay there till 20th June, 2010. 17, 000 personnel were deployed to conduct/perform election duties on behalf of the Bangladesh Election Commission (BEC).

In the pre election period, two court cases were filed, one against three BCS (health Cadre) doctors and one against opposition lawmaker Mr. S K Chowdhury. The three BCS (health Cadre) officers violated electoral code of conduct by taking part in campaigning in favor of a particular candidate. Whereas the opposition lawmaker S K Chowdhury claimed that 55000 voters do not have photographs in the voter roll. The Election Commission asked the police to enquire about the whole issue with reference to Kotwali police station.

CDA chairman named Mr. Abdus Salam was asked to explain why he took part in campaigning in favor of a particular candidate.

12 judicial magistrates were deployed in 6 police stations. To start with, 20 magistrates were deployed to conduct mobile court. Later on, the number was raised up to 41 in order to effectively deliver justice.

Introduction of mobile court created fear in the minds of the perpetrators. The rapid delivery of verdict and attempt to realize the fine imposed upon the violators even to the tune of TK. 50000 created such a deterrent that had a direct bearing on the pre election environment.

In response to several allegations, the Returning Officer suspended two magistrates and one presiding officers on the eve of the Election Day for they might influence voters in favor of some particular candidates.

The contesting candidates submitted their nomination papers on or before 20 May 2010. Nomination papers were scrutinized on 22 & 23 May 2010. On 1 June 2010 candidature was finalized. A total of 18 nomination papers were submitted for one mayoral post while 67 for 14 women reserved seats and 322 for 41 councilor posts to the Returning Officer. Scrutinizing those, the RO rejected five applications for mayoral post, three for reserved seats and 45 for councilor positions.

The pre-election scenario was almost peaceful. The election commission was quite assertive in enforcing adherence to electoral code of conduct. The Returning Officer concerned played a pivotal role in ensuring the display of the BEC’s independence with reference to opposition lawmaker S K Chowdhury’s detention incidence on the eve of the Election Day.

There was heavy downpour for the last few days before the Election Day. The Election Officials thought that it might make holding of the elections difficult particularly in the low-lying areas, because a number of polling

stations were seen under knee-deep water even two days before the Elections. However, the local election office found 20 polling stations inundated by rainwater. Military was deployed to pump out water from several polling stations before the Election Day. The silver lining was that it was dry on Election Day although the sky remained cloudy.

Area Coverage

JANIPOP – Jatiya Nirbachan Parjobekkhon Parishad has observed the Chittagong City Corporation Elections, held on June 17, 2010 on a mobile basis. 6 teams of JANIPOP, each consisting of 5 observers and led by Professor Dr. Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah, Chairman & Founder of the organization, have observed around 200 polling stations out of 673 of Chittagong City Corporation.

Methodology of Observation

JANIPOP observes elections in home and abroad keeping in mind the international standard of observation. With reference to Chittagong City Corporation Elections JANIPOP observed the process in three phases, namely Pre-Election, Election Day and Post-Election events. JANIPOP Chairman exchanged views with the Returning Officer (RO) Jesmin Tuli on several occasions. Alongside the RO, JANIPOP Chairman and Divisional Coordinator interviewed several magistrates couple of days before the election.

ANIPOP collected sample campaign materials of different candidates in the pre-election phase. JANIPOP surveyed election related press clippings, collected code of conduct, instructions for the candidates, poll officials, and observers.

JANIPOP applied to the Election Commission to get the opportunity to observe the Chittagong City Corporation Elections on 25 May 2010. The Election Commission granted approval to JANIPOP on 9 June 2010. The final approval letter and accreditation cards were issued on 10 June 2010.

JANIPOP recruited 30 observers in six mobile teams. The Divisional Coordinator of Chittagong was involved in the recruitment process. Most of the observers had Long Term Election Observation experience (National & International). JANIPOP National Secretariat in Dhaka and Divisional Secretariat in Chittagong monitored over telephone with the team leaders throughout the day. In case of any difficulty at field level, the observers informed the Chairman and measures were taken promptly. Before they were deployed, the volunteers were de briefed so that they understand very clearly the objective of the observation mission.

The Report Drafting Team has analyzed observation notes based on the feedbacks from six teams. The report has taken in to consideration use of anecdotes and still photographs. Photographs from the field have been used in this report as an evidence of specific incidents.

Highlights of the Election Day

Poll Logistics and Security Arrangements

The JANIPOP team observed that apart from the Presiding Officer two polling officers and one Assistant Presiding Officer were seen in each center. There were multiple booths in every polling station. There were adequate election materials like ballot papers, seals, and indelible ink, etc. in each polling station.

This time the law enforcing agencies were very visible in the entire area. In most of the polling stations, huge police personnel were deployed. Besides this, Ansar and Cost Guard members were visible. RAB and Military patrol was also visible throughout the area.

JANIPOP was informed that the Election Commission had deployed six companies of the Army along with the police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in the city corporation areas to maintain law and order. It also deployed two additional law enforcers to each 451 sensitive polling stations out of a total of 673 and installed 41 video cameras for constant vigilance during the polls.

Magistrates were seen to be on mobile duty. Apart from their regular duty, the law enforcing personnel were found helping the aged voters in order to ensure safe access to the polling stations. Military was approached to pump out water from several polling stations on the Election Day.

JANIPOP observers bumped on to the Returning Officer at several polling stations.

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