Bangladesh's Election Commission

Bangladesh EC Ensures Robust Preparations Amid Oppo’s Strike Threats

Bangladesh's Election Commission

Ashok Kumar Debnath, Additional Secretary of Bangladesh’s Election Commission Secretariat, while unveiling critical details regarding the upcoming general elections, outlined the comprehensive preparations in place to mitigate potential disruptions, especially in light of the strike called by the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

In an exclusive interview with ANI, Debnath said that the prime focus was on the safety and security of voters.

Ahead of the general elections set to be held on Sunday in Bangladesh, the country’s opposition party, the BNP, staged a massive protest in Dhaka’s Paltan area today.

Protestors expressed their refusal to engage in the electoral process unless a caretaker government is in place. The protestors, chanting slogans in Bengali, emphasised that elections are not a mere child’s play.

BNP has issued a call for a 48-hour nationwide ‘hartal’ (general strike) commencing today to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “illegal government.” Under the leadership of former Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia, the BNP decided to boycott the general election scheduled for January 7.

The second day of the strike coincides with tomorrow’s election, which has already gathered global attention.

However, in response to potential disruptions, particularly the strikes called by certain political parties, Debnath assured the public that the Election Commission is fully prepared.

“Yes, some political parties have called strikes and are restraining themselves from contesting the elections. They will obstruct voters going to the polling station. Nevertheless, we have all sorts of preparations. We are motivating voters through print and electronic media so that all kinds of security are provided for the voters and they cast their vote freely. There is no apprehension of any sort of chaos or anything else,” he said.

“We have around 8 lakh security personnel, including police, army, navy, coast guard, and BGB (Border Guard of Bangladesh). They are patrolling the area,” he added.

Debnath also said that the army has been deployed, as it is a customary practice in Bangladesh elections, so as to instil confidence and enhance law and order.

“Not only army, the armed forces, Navy, Air Force. Six helicopters are providing support for carrying the election materials to the vote centres, especially in the hilly area where motorable roads are not available,” the Election Commission official noted.

The army’s presence is intended to create a sense of security for voters, thereby encouraging their participation, he said.

“Army is deployed to create some sorts of assurance for the voters. If the army is deployed, there will be a better law-and-order situation. In this situation, people will get assurance to go to the vote centres and cast votes,” he also said.

Debnath also confirmed that all necessary preparations have been completed, with election materials dispatched to polling stations. While most ballot papers are scheduled for delivery tomorrow, 4,000 remote polling stations will receive them today due to logistical constraints.

The remaining election materials, including ballot boxes and seals, are already en route to various polling locations.

Highlighting key figures, Debnath disclosed that about 12 crore registered voters are eligible to participate in the elections.

Out of the 44 registered political parties, 28 are actively contesting, presenting a total of 1,971 candidates.

Notably, this election marks a historic moment as one transgender candidate participates for the first time in the country’s electoral history. “This is the first time that transgender people are contesting in this election in the history of Bangladesh,” said Debnath.

Concluding the interview, Debnath appealed to voters to cast votes, assuring them that the Election Commission has taken all necessary measures to guarantee a smooth and secure electoral process.

“There are no apprehensions of any mismanagement, and all voters should come freely to the vote centres and cast their vote as per their will,” he added.

As Bangladesh braces for the upcoming general elections, the Election Commission remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring a fair, secure, and inclusive democratic process despite challenges posed by political strikes and opposition resistance. (ANI)

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