Voting halted after situation goes out of control: CEC

A voter (first from right) casts ballot using an electronic voting machine (EVM) at a centre during the by-election to Gaibandha-5 constituency on 12 October 2022.
Prothom Alo

The election commission (EC) on Wednesday announced that it has postponed the by-election to Gaibandha-5 constituency.

Chief election commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal made the announcement at the EC office in the capital’s Agargaon area around 2:30pm.

The CEC said, “We think voting situation has gone out of control and a group or a rival opponent candidate has managed to influence the polls. That is why we think voting is not being held neutrally.”

The commission monitors the situation in the by-election to Gaibandha-5 constituency from the EC office through CCTV camera.

The CEC said EC officials had monitored the election uninterruptedly since 8:00am, but high officials of the EC informed him about 12:30pm that CCTV connections have been disconnected at many voting centres.

“The section 91 of the Representation of the People Order states voting must be held in a fair and neutral manner and the commission has been bestowed with the authority to halt the voting at a centre or all the centres if the commission deems voting is not being held properly. And we are taking decision in accordance with the provision,” he added.

Voting has been suspended at 51 centres in several phases and the EC deems evaluation of voting result will not be proper based on ballot casting at the remaining centres, the CEC said adding, the commission will decide on the by-polls later after studying laws, rules and regulations.

Earlier, the CEC briefed the media at the EC office around 12:00pm.

Replying to a query from newsmen as to why the situation went out of control, Kazi Habibul Awal said, “We are observing that situation has somewhat gone out of control. You are also noticing it. Others are entering secret rooms, voting is not being held properly. But we cannot say it now why the situation has gone out of control.”

The CEC also said he noticed huge malpractices in the polls and voting has been suspended where more irregularities were found.

Replying to a query on what action will be taken against those who indulged in irregularities in election, the CEC said they have taken primary step, and they spoke to police, district administration and returning officer.

As to whether they received any compliant on electronic voting machine (EVM), the CEC said, “We find no fault in EVM and human errors cause some problems.”

The CEC said he saw many people going to vote wearing T-shirt with same electoral symbol and such activities are being carried out violating the electoral code of conducts.

“Those who don’t abide by laws, we can call them, robbers and miscreants. All of us must respect the law and the EC cannot offer a good election by sitting here,” he added.

There are 339,098 voters in Gaibandha-5 (Saghata-Fulchhari) constituency.

Five candidates including Mahmud Hasan of Awami League, AHM Golam Shaheed of Jatiya Party contested the by-polls.