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Voting in the biennial election (2021-2023) to the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) began amid recent spike in novel coronavirus infection cases on Sunday.

The voting has begun at 9:00 am and will continue until 7:00 pm. This is the first vote to the apex business committee of Bangladesh in the last eight years. The election commission has extended the time of voting for two hours so that the voters can cast their votes maintaining health guidelines.

The voting is underway at Hotel Radisson Blu in Dhaka and the regional office of BGMEA in Chattogram. As per the election schedule, a total of 1,853 RMG factory owners who are also members of the association, will cast their votes in Dhaka while some 461 members will cast their votes in Chattogram.

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Two panels are contesting the trade body’s election this year. Earlier, Swadhinata Parishad merged with the Sammilita Parishad led by Giant Group managing director Faruque Hassan.

On the other hand, Hannan Group chairman ABM Shamsuddin is leading the Forum panel as its candidate for president. Incumbent BGMEA president Rubana Huq is contesting as a panel member of Forum. A total of 70 candidates have been contesting in the elections against 35 posts.

BGMEA election board chairman Syed Farhat Anwar on Saturday afternoon said that the voting time has been extended for two hours for maintaining health guidelines amid Covid-19 situation. The contesting leaders and their supporters were asked not to gather at the polling centres.

A total of 14 polling booths have been set up for the voting. The election board will announce unofficial results tonight. Official results will be announced on 10 April. The 35 elected directors will elect the president and seven vice-presidents from them. The new committee will take charge of the country’s businesspeople for the next two years on 20 April.

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