Kazi Habibul awal, the Chief Election Commissioner of Barisal City Corporation Elections (BCC), said on Saturday that the commission was working to suppress irregularities in the forthcoming Barisal City Corporation Elections and showing its muscle power.
The CEC made it clear that anyone found guilty of dishonesty or breaking rules, whether they were a candidate or a worker, would be subject to severe punishment.
He called on citizens to be vigilant and report any irregularities to the presiding officers.
CEC Awal, as chief guest, spoke at an exchange meeting at Barisal Shilpakala Academy with candidates of the BCC elections.
158 councillors candidates, 7 mayorals candidates, journalists, officials and others attended the late-night meeting.
Candidates expressed their concerns and grievances, but also expressed hope for an election that is fair.
CEC Awal told the candidates that the commission will take legal action if any candidate is found guilty of obstructing or misbehaving during the election process.
Iqbal Tapos, the Jatiya Party candidate for mayor, was opposed to it. While Abul Khair Abdullah of Awami Party praised Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Tapos demanded a reorganization of the administrative structure and the deployment army.
Mufti Faizul Karim was the mayoral candidate for the Islamic Movement Bangladesh. He expressed similar concerns and complaints. He asked whether the Election Commission will resign should the elections not be conducted properly.
Responding to the mayoral candidate’s question, CEC said: “Before announcing the schedule, if you declare that you would not participate in polls using EVMs, then there was something that we could have done. But if you say this only a few days before the election, then it is not possible to attach printed ballots for voting.”
The CEC claimed: “In Gazipur, the number of voters is 1.1 millions. They were uneducated garment worker. They did not have any formal education in Science, Physics or Chemistry, but they still used the EVM voting system. Even the Gazipur candidate who lost the election did not complain and neither could the journalists.
“EVMs have been isolated, and you must open the ballot using your fingerprint. “If your fingerprint does not match, the digital ballot won’t be opened. If it matches, it will open automatically,” he said.
“Barisal City Corporation” is a third of Gazipur. The 126 polling stations will be equipped with CCTV cameras. Not only Barisal City Corporation, but also other city corporation elections in the country will have CCTVs as well.
The CEC stated: “You should not doubt the goodwill and sincerity of our CEC.”
He said, “I don’t say that the elections will improve only because of our efforts or the efforts made by law enforcers. But your efforts should be the same as with us.” It’s a coordinated effort.”
He told the candidates it was not necessary to complain against someone. They only had to present evidence to back up their complaint.
Amin Ul Ahsan, the Barisal Divisional Commissar, presided over this meeting.
Special guests at the meeting were Brigadier-General Ahsan Habib Khan, Secretary of Election Commission Secretariat Jahangir Alam and Colonel Syed Rakibul Hasan, Electronic Voting Machine Project Director.
The program was attended by the Deputy Commissioner and high-ranking officials from the Barisal district and metropolis administration, as well as the district and divisional administrators.