'Stronghold' poll centres face dissolution
Friday, 26 September 2008

Bdnews24.com

The Election Commission is readying over 40,000 polling centres countrywide, ahead of Jatiya Sangsad and Upazila polls in December, with some 4,000 'political stronghold' centres facing dissolution and replacement, say election officials.

Of the total number, an estimated 5,000 extra polling centres will be required for the UZ polls following the Dec 18 general election, election commissioner M Sakhawat Hussain told bdnews24.com Wednesday.
 
The EC is preparing for the JS and UZ elections in "full swing", he said.
 
"The polling centres earmarked for the Jatiya Sangsad polls will also be utilised during the Upazila polls."
 
On top of the 35,000 existing polling centres across the country, another 10 percent may have to be added for the UZ polls to be held in two phases just days after the general election, Sakhawat said.
 
"Around 5,000 more centres will be rigged up," said the election commissioner.
 
Centres traditionally considered as 'strongholds' of individual contestants, or regarded to be a 'sure win' by a particular political party through illegal influence, are being identified, said election commissioner Muhammad Sohul Hussain.
 
He assured bdnews24.com that such 'questionable' centres will be dissolved and replaced following EC probes substantiating any well-founded allegations.
 
Prior to the cancelled election of Jan 22, 2007, such questions were raised over the independence of at least 4,000 centres, an election official said.
 
Mihir Sarwar Morshed, EC deputy secretary (election) told bdnews24.com that the EC has already listed two categories of polling centres, based on which the finalised list will be published by gazette 21 days ahead of the elections.
 
To avoid similar allegations of past irregularities in setting up polling centres, Morshed said the EC is committed to "doing things right" this year.
 
An estimated 8.05 crore registered voters will be eligible to vote in the upcoming elections, Morshed said.
 
According to regulations, there must be a polling centre for every 2,500 voters in national election, and one for every 1,500 voters in local polls.
 
The JS polls will be held on Dec 18 and UZ polls, excluding six city corporations, 16 cantonment boards and 15 unions, on Dec 24 and Dec 28.

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