Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) expresses its grave concern regarding the violence surrounding Chattogram City Corporation Elections, which included attacks, gun fights, and the death of one person.
According to the media reports, the Election Commission took no steps despite serious allegations regarding the elections held on 27 January; amongst other irregularities, allegations of preventing the entry of the opposition party agents or removing them from the voting centres, having control over the entrance and surrounding areas of the voting centres by ruling party men, keeping unwanted individuals present at the private voting booths, and the partisan conduct of the law enforcement agencies. At the same time, there have reports about how the display of brute force by ruling party supporters influenced the electoral atmosphere as well as the decrease in the number of voters coming to centres.
Similar allegations of violence and irregularities have also surfaced regarding some recent local government elections. According to ASK documentation from national news dailies, in January, 209 persons were injured and five others died due to violence during municipal elections. In the months of December, 176 persons were injured and two died due to violence during Union Parishad, Municipal and Upazila Parishad elections. Besides, during the City Corporation elections, 162 people were injured and three others died due to violence. It is regrettable that the Election Commission has not taken any steps to create an enabling environment for voting during or after such incidents of violence, or any steps against those responsible. Rather, through the various different statements given by this national body, we believe that it is on the brink of facing distrust. ASK urges the Election Commission to create a free and fair electoral environment so that citizens can freely exercise their right to vote, and urges the government to provide adequate support to the commission in this regard.
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