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Thursday, March 31, 2016, Chaitra 17, 1422 BS, Jamadius Sani 21, 1437 Hijri

2nd phase of UP elections begins
Observer Online Desk
Published :Thursday, 31 March, 2016,  Time : 10:12 AM  View Count : 54
Elections to 639 Union Parishads (UP) in 47 districts are being held on Thursday in the second of the six-phase polls.

Voting started at 8am and will end at 4pm.

The Election Commission (EC) says it has adopted all kind to ensure free and fair polls.

Election Commissioner Md Shah Nawaz on Wednesday said, “Some anomalies took place in the first phase. But we’ve taken action. No one involved in any kind of irregularities will be spared.

“We’ve asked the law-enforcing agencies to take firm measures. We hope the election in the next phases will be fairer.”

The polls to this lowest tier of government are believed to evoke maximum public response because the Union Councils are all about grass-roots governance.

This is the first time the polls at this level are being held on party lines with 17 political parties taking part in the race for posts of Union Parishad chairmen in the second leg.

The main battle is, as usual, expected to be between the ruling Awami League and rival BNP.

The elections to the posts of general and reserved seat members will be held with non-party symbols.

The ruling party has urged the authorities not to spare anyone involved in any sort of malpractice during the votes.

The BNP fears large-scale rigging during Thursday’s polling, like in the first phase.

The EC’s election management department Deputy Secretary Shamsul Alam said the law-enforcing agencies were patrolling the electoral areas and beefing up security at the polling centres.

Observers had warned of violence and irregularities in this election. At least 20 people have been killed in polls-related violence in the two months since the EC announced the election schedule.

The EC has now taken a ‘stern position’ to prevent violence and electoral fraud during the second phase.

Shah Nawaz said the security forces will get all assistance from the Commission. “They must enforce their full legal authority to ensure a free and fair vote.”

2nd phase at a glance
A total of 30,419 candidates are fighting for the posts of chairman, general and reserved seat members at 639 union councils.
More than 11 million voters, nearly half of them women, are expected to cast votes at 6,205 polling centres in the second phase.
The Awami League has thrown in 639 chairman candidates and the BNP 560. But they have to contend with 1,169 independent chairman candidates.
The ruling party aspirants have already been elected uncontested at 33 UPs.
First phase results
The first phase of the election was held at 712 union councils on Mar 22 with 74.77 percent voter turnout.
The Awami League chairman candidates won at 540 UPs, the BNP at 47 and independent runners were elected at 103.
The EC on Feb 11 had announced the schedule for polls at 4,279 Union Parishads.
According to the schedule, the third phase will see polling in 650 unions on Apr 23, followed by vote in 713 unions on May 7, and in another 714 unions on May 28 in the fifth phase.
In the last leg, 660 unions will go to polls on Jun 4.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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