Voting begins in Sylhet, Rajshahi city corporations

Logos of Rajshahi and Sylhet city corporations

Voting began in the elections to Sylhet and Rajshahi city corporations on Wednesday morning. People started to vote at 8:00 am and it will continue uninterruptedly until 4:00 pm.

Electronic voting machine (EVM) is being used in all the polling centres of the two city corporations in the election.

The campaigning ended fairly peacefully except for a few incidents of violence. The government has announced Wednesday as general holiday in the two city corporations for the polls.

In Sylhet, the competing mayoral candidates are – ruling Awami League nominated Anwaruzzaman Chowdhury, Jatiya Party’s Nazrul Islam, and Zaker Party’s Zahirul Alam. Four independent candidates are also contesting in the polls. They are – Abdul Hanif, Salah Uddin, Shah Jaman Mia and Mostaq Ahmed Rauf Mostafa.

Islami Andolan Bangladesh’s candidate withdrew his candidature from the SCC polls following the attack on the party’s mayoral candidate in the Barishal city elections a few days ago.

On the other hand, 20 leaders and activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami have been contesting in councillor posts in the elections. The party has neither stopped them from taking part in the polls nor taken any organisational action.

Female voters wait in queue to cast their votes at Pathantula Shahjalal Zamia Islamia Madrasah in Sylhet on 21 June, 2023
Anis Mahmud

News agency BSS adds: the authorities concerned have completed all-out preparations to hold the SCC polls peacefully. Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras have already been installed in each polling centres of the city corporation.

“The electoral materials have been distributed at Abul Mal Abdul Muhit Sports Complex in the city today (Tuesday). These electoral materials were taken in all respective polling stations,” said Faisal Qadir, regional election officer of Sylhet.

“Five tiers of Security measures have been taken to hold the election in a free, fair and credible manner,” he said, adding that police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), Ansar and Armed Police have been deployed as part of security measures.

The Sylhet City Corporation sources said there are 42 wards in the city corporation.

The total number of voters in the Sylhet City Corporation is 487,753, Faisal said adding: “Elections will be held using EVMs in 190 centres under 42 wards of the city corporation.”

In Rajshahi, the city corporation (RCC) election is being held for the seventh time since its establishment in 1987.

For the first time in RCC’s history, election is being held in EVM in all the 155 centres. There will also be close circuit cameras in each of the centres.

The regional election office has adopted all sorts of necessary preparations in coordination with all the authorities concerned, including law enforcing agencies, to make the election successful.

It has imparted training to 155 presiding officers, 1153 assistance presiding officers and 3,459 polling officers to oversee the election.

There are 351,982 voters in the city. They will case their votes in 1,153 polling booths of 155 centres in 30 wards.

Returning officer Delwar Hossain said a total of 161 candidates remained in the election race. Of them, three for mayor, 112 for general councilors in 30 wards and 46 for 10 reserved seats for women councilors.

The mayoral candidates are: Bangladesh Awami League nominated and former mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Jatiya Party candidate Saiful Islam Swapan and Zaker Party’s Latif Anwar.

Voters wait to cast their votes at Shah Mukhdum College in Rajshahi on 21 June, 2023
Suvra Kanti Das

Rajshahi Metropolitan Police (RMP) held a briefing at its police lines ground largely attended by police, Ansar-VDP and others concerned.

The participants were given directions to perform their respective duties with utmost sincerity and honesty for a perfect election.

RMP commissioner Anisur Rahman, additional commissioners Bijoy Basak and Shamsun Nahar, deputy commissioner Saif Uddin Shaheen, deputy director general of Ansar-VDP Kamrun Nahar and returning officer to the RCC election Delwar Hossain addressed the briefing.

In his remarks, commissioner Anisur Rahman said 148 of the total 155 polling centres are risky adding the additional security measures were taken to hold the election successfully and all centres face the risks strictly.

He said five-tier security measures have been taken for making the polls free, fair, participatory, peaceful and acceptable to all as around 4,500 law enforcers will work to maintain law and order.

Around 3,500 members of police, 400 personnel of RAB, 200 of BGB and 1860 of Ansar will discharge election duties.

“We are adamant to take drastic action against any sorts of wrong-doers in polling centres,” said RMP commissioner Rahman.

Returning officer Delwar Hossain told the parade briefing that they conducted motivational campaigns at the community level about polling in EVM correctly.

RAB-5 commanding officer Lt. Col. Riaz Shahrier also briefed the newspersons about their security measures at his office to make the election a total success.

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate AHM Khairuzzaman addressed a pre-election ‘meet the press’ on Tuesday expecting that around 65 per cent voters will cast their votes in Wednesday’s RCC election.

He said there are optimum numbers of candidates for the posts of general councilors and reserved seats for women in all 30 wards in addition to the mayoral candidates. So, there will be no problems for voters.