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Mayors urge EC not to hold municipal polls amid Covid-19

Published : Sunday, 20 September, 2020 at 12:00 AM  Count : 128
Mohammad Zakaria

Following the Election Commission's decision to hold all municipal polls by December, mayors of several municipalities have urged the EC not to hold the elections during the Coronavirus pandemic.
"As per the decision, the
EC has already started taking preparations for holding over 256 municipal polls by December. The schedule of the municipal polls is likely to be declared by end of October," an EC official told the Daily Observer on Thursday.
The EC sent letter to the Local Government and Rural Development and Cooperatives Ministry asking to send the list of municipalities which are eligible for polls.
Recently, the Mayor of Nageshawar Municipality of Kurigram, Md Abdur Rahman, has written to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda, urging him not to hold municipal polls amid the deadly Coronavirus outbreak in the country.
"In the present situation, Covid-19 has severely affected all the countries of the world along with Bangladesh. None can move outside home. So if election was held, candidates cannot hold mass election campaigns amid the Coronavirus pandemic," the letter mentioned.
Besides, Sagalnaiya Municipal Mayor Mohammad Mostafa, Chandpur Municipal Mayor Nasir Uddin Ahmed, Chalna Municipal Mayor Sanad Kumar Biswas, Kurigram Municipal Mayor Md Abdul Jalil have urged the EC in separate letters not to hold municipal polls during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, Deputy Secretary of EC Atiar Rahman said the EC has already successfully held some by-elections to the parliamentary constituencies amid the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
The EC has decided to hold polls in the eligible municipalities before the expiry of their tenure-by December. The EC is likely to announce the polls schedule of the municipal polls by the end of October, he also said.
Regarding the letters written by some mayors not to hold municipal polls during Coronavirus pandemic, Atiar said there will be no problem of holding the municipal polls across the country. The EC will hold these polls sincerely maintaining the health related issues during casting of votes.
The EC has asked its secretariat to prepare the list of the municipalities where there is no boundary dispute, litigations or other issues, he said and added that probably around 256 municipalities are eligible for the polls.
"But the number of municipalities may increase or decrease in the final list," he added.  
EC officials said elections to 234 municipalities should be held by December as the last elections were held on December 30 in 2015 and most of the elected mayors took office in January 2016.
Polls in the rest 94 other municipalities, out of a total of 328, will be held at a later date.
According to the local government laws, elections should be held before 90 days of expiry of the tenure of the elected body of a municipality or UP. In the polls, mayor and chairman candidates will participate with party symbols as the polls to the posts will be held on partisan basis.
Like previous elections, councillors and member candidates will participate in the polls with symbols allotted by the EC as elections to the posts will be non-partisan.
The staggered elections to municipalities in the country were held in 2015 by the EC headed by Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad.
EC officials said they plan to hold all municipal polls on a single day and use electronic voting machines in the polls.

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