EC explains its position on army deployment

EC explains its position on army deployment

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The Election Commission on Saturday said different print and electronic media are running misleading news over army deployment during the elections to three city corporations in Dhaka and Chittagong.
“It needs to remove this confusion over army deployment during the polls,” the Commission said in a press release on Saturday.
The elections to Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) are slated for April 28.The EC said the army had patrolled polling stations or streets during only two parliamentary polls held in 2001 and 2008 as the force was defined as the law enforcement agency in the electoral laws at that time. In other previous elections, the army had taken positions as the reserve force and acted as the striking force on call, it added.
Since the elections are being held only in Dhaka and Chittagong metropolitans and the cantonments are located at the centres of the two cities, it is easy for the army to move anywhere of the election areas from there.
“It’ll take the same time for the army to move to election areas, no matter whether they will stay — inside the cantonments or in makeshift camps. Besides, the army will be able to reach spots within a short time as traffic movement will remain restricted on the voting day,” the release added.
It said for these city corporations’ elections, an adequate number of law enforcers from Police, Rab, Ansar-VDP, Coast Guard and BGB will be deployed, which is much more than what is required.
Adequate mobile teams of the law enforcement agencies will be on patrol during the elections, while other members of the agencies will take position in strategic points in adequate number as strike force to instantly face any situation, the EC added.
On Tuesday, the EC decided to deploy three battalions of the army in DSCC, DNCC and CCC areas for four days from April 26 to 29 and sent a letter to the Armed Forces Division seeking the army to act as reserve force and if necessary striking force in the elections.
But a day later, the commission sent a revised letter to the Armed Force Division stating that the army should stay inside the cantonment as reserve force and act as striking force only at request of the returning officers.
In the wake of widespread criticism, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad on Thursday said the cantonment is the best location for the army adding that as the cantonments are centrally located in the cities, it will be easy for them to move anywhere from there.
Though BNP welcomed the EC initial move over the army deployment, the party came down heavily on the EC for sending the revised letter.
BNP and many candidates of the elections, especially BNP-backed mayoral contenders, have been demanding deployment of the army in the elections. – UNB

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