Voting in Rajshahi, Rangpur underway

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Voting in municipal polls for Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions is underway amid tight security.

Countrywide municipal elections kicked off Wednesday with the voting in the divisions on the first day under a staggered poll schedule.

Polling started at 8am and would continue till 4pm, without break.

Witnesses and Election Commission officials said voters queued up at polling centres in 49 municipalities of Rajshahi division and 23 of Rangpur division to cast their votes.

Over 21 lakh voters are expected to cast their votes to elect 72 mayors and 971 councillors to the 72 municipalities. A total of 362 candidates for mayoral and 4,605 for councillor posts are contesting the elections in the 72 municipalities.

Today is a public holiday in those areas.

Besides, the local-body polls under Barisal and Khulna divisions will be held on January 13 and Dhaka division on January 17. Municipalities under Chittagong and Sylhet divisions will go to the polls on January 18.

The Election Commission decided to deploy army troops in 73 municipalities of 37 districts to allay security concerns, particularly aired by opposition parties.

Army troops on Monday morning started making patrols in different districts as striking force to thwart any trouble ahead of municipal polls.

Meanwhile, Election Commissioner M Sakhawat Hossain Tuesday said the administration is prepared to hold the municipal elections “in a free, fair and neutral manner”.

“The Election Commission will take legal action against those who will try to establish supremacy in the polling centers, even if they be MPs,” said the Election Commissioner while exchanging views with the mayoral and councilor candidates in the backwater coastal district of Bhola in the conference room of Bhola Deputy Commissioner.

Referring to the candidates, the EC forewarned, ”Your candidacy will be canceled if you try to confuse the voters.”

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