Opposition BNP mayoral candidate Monirul Haque Sakku was on Thursday re-elected as mayor of Comilla City defeating ruling Awami League’s Anjum Sultana Sima, according to the unofficial results of the 2nd civic polls in the city.
Five years ago, Monirul Haque Sakku was elected as the first mayor of the city defeating Anjum Sultana’s
father Afzal Khan.
Monirul Haque Sakku bagged 68,948 votes while Anjum Sultana – 57,863, according to the unofficial results announced by returning officer Raquib Uddin Mandal at Comilla Town Hall Club at 9PM.
Out of 103 polling stations, voting was suspended at two with 5,200 voters, said Election Commission officials.
‘It’s people’s victory,’ said Monirul Haque Sakku in his instant reaction.
‘It’s the result of a mass-revolution, I am grateful to the people of Comilla and will stand by them as in the past, ’ he said.
Polling closed amid tight security at 4 PM after peaceful voting but for stray incidents of violence and ballot stuffing in favour of ruling AL’s mayoral contestant.
Incidents of ballot stuffing and coercing voters by ruling party men were reported from at least five voting centres.
Rival supporters of ruling AL and opposition BNP candidates clashed at least at one polling centre.
Anjum Sultana Sima’s personal secretary Masudur Rahman was arrested at Modern High School polling centre for assaulting a reporter of private TV channel DBC, after Masud was videotaped while casting fake votes while polling was closing.
Voting at Comilla Government City College centre and Chowyara Islamia Fajil Madrassah centre were suspended following incidents of violence said EC officials.
Ruling AL leaders called the polling free and fair and took place amid festivity.
BNP raised it voice against ruling AL men trying to influence voting with support from the law enforcement agencies as well as the Election Commission.
The new Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda termed the polling as ‘free and fair but for stray incidents to the contrary.’
He said that the Election Commission achieved ‘100 per cent success’ in conducting free, fair and peaceful civic elections in Comilla City.
‘We took immediate action as soon as we got information about stray incidents of irregularities and malpractice,’ said the CEC.
Out of 2.07 lakh registered voters, said EC officials, 1,32,690 cast votes.
Also in the mayoral race were Shirin Akhter of the Rob faction of JSD and independent candidate Mamunur Rashid.
EC officials said 114 candidates contested for 27 ward councilors while 40 women contested for nine councilors reserved for them.
Violence and irregularities led to postponement of voting at Comilla Government City College Centre as ruling party men stormed into it at around 11 AM blasting two cocktails, said locals.
Ruling AL men snatched and stuffed ballots after taking over some of booths at first floor of the centre.
Returning officer Raquib Uddin Mandal rushed to center with huge police contingents to quell the situation.
Police recovered two unexploded crude bombs from the centre.
Several hundred voters waiting in queues left without exercising their right to vote.
Polling was suspended as situation got out of the control, said EC secretary Mohammad Abdullah said in capital.
At about 3PM polling was suspended at the Chowyara Islamia Fajil Madrassah polling centre after ruling AL men forcibly entered the centre blasting crude bombs.
Presiding officer Tarifuzzamamn said that he suspended polling as the situation had gone out of control.
Ruling AL men took control Gobindapur Government Primary School polling station under ward-7 and stuffed ballots between 11 AM and 1.30 PM after intimidating the presiding officer and the other election officials.
On reaching the centre, reporters saw that presiding officer Didarul Islam was crying but he refused to make comments.
BNP agents complained that on reaching the booths their supporters found that their votes had already been cast.
Chasing and counter chasing kept supporters of the two rival parties busy outside the Gandhamati Government Primary School centre.
At Cotbihar Government Primary School polling centre AL backed councilor contestant Idu Mia assaulted ruling party’s rebel candidate Arif Hossain in presence of police in the afternoon.
Idu Mia claimed he assaulted none.
Police said that they recovered eight crude bombs from near Sri Ballavpur Government Primary School polling station in the morning.
Relatively poor turn-out was reported from three poling centres at Gandamati of Kotbari area after the police cordoned off a suspect militant den since Wednesday evening.
In the capital, AL joint general secretary Mahbub-ul Alam Hanif told a press briefing that polling was free and fair and said BNP leaders were trying to make the polls controversial without any evidence.
BNP leader Ruhul Kabir Rizvi had said the EC had failed to hold free and fair polling in Comilla.
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