Army to be deployed on Dec 26 for 15 days

The Election Commission has decided to deploy army as an “aid to the civil authorities” for 15 days from December 26 to January 9 for maintaining law and order during the 10th parliamentary polls slated for January 5. The EC has also decided to deploy RAB and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) members alongside the army personnel. Magistrates would accompany the army and BGB, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad told reporters yesterday after a meeting with government high officials and law enforcing agencies in a city auditorium. EC officials, who were present at the meeting, told the Dhaka Tribune that while some returning officers and police officials had expressed fears that huge violence may take place centring the elections, others have said the law and order situation was now under control. The returning officers also feared low voter turnout at the polling centres because of widespread fear of violence, the meeting sources said. The CEC also told reporters after the meeting that many candidates had sought security from the commission. The commission was yet to finalise the list of vulnerable polling centres and law enforcers were constantly conducting drives across the country to recover illegal arms and weapons, the CEC said. He also said the decision on whether to deploy law enforcers in the districts where all the constituencies would be seeing uncontested lawmakers, was still to be made. Meeting sources said the inspector general of police had told the EC that the law and order situation was “good.” A meeting source said: “The DG of RAB told the EC that the law enforcing agencies would have to arrest the identified criminals from now for holding the elections in a free, fair and neutral manner.” Also present at the meeting, the deputy commissioner of Chittagong reportedly said voter turnout might increase on the election day. For this, the chairmen of the union parishads should be trained up so that they could bring voters to the polling centres. EC officials present at the meeting also said the commission had decided to deploy 15-20 army personnel depending on the situation in the respective areas. The RAB, police and BGB men would remain as striking forces.