Army watch for Upazila polls

The bitter aftertaste of the parliamentary election on Jan 5 has prompted the Election Commission (EC) to station the army for the local polls.

The decision to deploy troops aims to maintain law and order in all the six phases of the Upazila Parishad elections.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad on Thursday said they wanted to take extra precaution to prevent the recurrence of violence witnessed on Jan 5 with the BNP and its allies boycotting and resisting the general elections.

Twenty people, including a polling officer, had been killed that day in several violent incidents.

File Photo

File Photo

He said the decision to post army personnel to bolster polls-day security had been taken after getting ground information and discussions with senior security officers.

About the Jan 5 balloting, Ahmad said: “We faced large-scale violence. Poll workers suffered and equipment were damaged. So we decided to have the army in these elections, too.”

Before announcing the schedule of the second phase of the Upazila elections on Thursday, the CEC held a meeting to take stock of the security situation.

Although the parliamentary election saw considerable violence, Ahmad said he did not foresee similar trouble in the local polls.

The intelligence agencies, too, seem to have ruled out large-scale violence during the Upazila polls, he said.

“The law and order situation will be good. The information we have till now suggests we will be able to conduct a quiet election,” Ahmad added.

He said the army had been deployed during the third Upazila Parishad elections in 2009 also. The security agencies would decide how long the army would remain in deployment and advice the EC.

File Photo

File Photo

But Ahmad hinted the army will be around for at least five days as a “striking force” and patrol the Upazilas.

Law-enforcing agencies will begin polls duty two days before the day of voting and stay on for at least two days after the exercise.

In the first phase, polls will be held in 98 Upazilas on Feb 19. The next phases will be on Feb 27, Mar 15, Mar 25, Mar 31 and May 3, as per the schedule prepared by the EC.

Source: Bd news24

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