Faulty elections to hamper democracy: TIB

Staff Correspondent | Published: 14:04, Jan 15,2019 | Updated: 00:23, Jan 16,2019

 
 

Speakers at a press conference on 11th parliamentary elections organised by Transparency International Bangladesh at its office in the capital on Tuesday. -- Saurov Laskar

Transparency International Bangladesh on Tuesday described the December 30 general election as partially participated, non-competitive, questionable and faulty.
At a press conference on 11th parliamentary elections at its office in Dhaka, TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said that the faulty election would hamper the democracy.
He said that all candidates were not allowed to conduct electioneering freely while voters faced obstacle in casting vote.
The Election Commission failed to act neutrally and the role of a section of a polling officers and law enforcers were biased, said Iftekharuzzaman.
He said that the election result was extraordinary and the commission’s role was controversial during the elections.
At the press conference, TIB released its study findings in 50 of the 300 constituencies.
According to the findings, irregularities including stuffing of ballot boxes, violation of electoral code of conduct and violence took place in 47 of the 50 constituencies it monitored.
TIB senior programme manager (research and policy) Shahjada M Akram read out the findings.
He said that incidents of irregularities included playing a silent role by law enforcers and administration officers, ballot box stuffing, fake voting and capture of polling stations.
Ballots were stamped in the night before the elections in at least one or more polling stations in 33 while polling booths were captured and ballot boxes were stuffed in 30 of the 50 constituencies, the study revealed.
Iftekharuzzaman said that the chief election commissioner failed to overcome form conflict of interest as he did not give any explanation over candidacy of his close relative.
TIB trustee Sultana Kamal said that the government and the commission should check the irregularities in forthcoming elections to upazila parishads.
She said that such irregularities created scepticism about the polls among the citizen’s mind which was not acceptable for democracy.
The TIB study also observed that foreign and local election observers faced obstacle to monitoring the elections.
‘Some election monitoring organisations were not allowed to observe the polls for their alleged political link while some organisations linked to the ruling party were allowed,’ the study stated.
It also accused the government of failure to convince European Union to monitor the elections.
It said that the contestants in the 50 seats spent money at least three times higher than the ceiling of Tk 25 lakh.
It said that ruling Awami League candidates spent on an average Tk 1.33 crore, five times higher than the ceiling set by the commission.
In the 50 constituencies, TIB found invisible role of the administration and law enforcers in 42 constituencies, incidents of fake voting in 41 constituencies, ballots stamping in the night before the polls in 33 constituencies and capture of polling stations at 30 constituencies.
It found that polling agents and voters were intimidated in 26 constituencies, voters were forced to cast votes for a particular symbol in 22 constituencies, voters were asked to leave polling stations in 21 constituencies, ballot boxes were found full in 20 constituencies and opposition activists were tortured in 11 constituencies.
The TIB recommended judicial inquiry into the incidents and enactment of a law on appointment of the chief and other election commissioners.
About the TIB findings, election commissioner M Rafiqul Islam told New Age that the findings were imaginary and not acceptable.
He said that the findings were too early as research was a time consuming matter.

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