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Tuesday, January 13, 2009
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BNP triumphs in Noakhali polls

Women voters stand in a long queue at Sonaimuri Model High School polling centre yesterday as Noakhali-1 constituency goes to parliamentary polls. Photo: AFP

BNP-led four-party candidate Mahbubuddin Khokan has been elected lawmaker in Noakhali-1 constituency, according to unofficial results.

Khokan of BNP polled 1,05,380 votes while his nearest rival and Awami League candidate HM Ibrahim got 80,658 votes.

Returning officer Abdul Hoque, also deputy commissioner of Noakhali, around 12:15am today declared Khokan the unofficial winner.

Abdur Rahim of Islami Andolan got 3,458 votes, Aminullah of Krishak Sramik Janata League got 460 votes, Mahbubur Rahman of Jatiya Party got 386 votes, independent candidates Golam Moula got 531 and Al Amin got 320 votes.

A total of 476 votes were no votes.

Reports of attacks on BNP men after the possible AL defeat came from Shompara Bazar, Yasin Hajir Bazar, Noakhola and some other areas. No details were available immediately.

Earlier, voting ended peacefully at 4:00pm yesterday with remarkable turnout and significant presence of women voters. Balloting in the constituency, only among the 300, was postponed due to the sudden death of a candidate on December 4 ahead of the ninth parliamentary elections.

Voting continued yesterday at a few centres after the deadline and completed after all voters present inside the compounds cast their votes. In most of the 105 centres long queues were formed in front of the booths before beginning of voting.

Abdul Hoque had earlier identified 67 centres as "vulnerable" and deployed additional security forces there to avert any untoward incidents.

Eleven candidates remained in the race after withdrawal of nomination papers. But two of them nominated by alliance partners of AL-- Mahbubur Rahman of Jatiya Party and Harun-Ur-Rashid of Jatiya Samajtanrik Dal--extended their support to AL candidate HM Ibrahim on January 7.

Though Khokan was officially the four-party candidate, no activities by the key alliance component Jamaat-e-Islami were seen in favour of him.

Khokan and Ibrahim continued filing complaints all day that their supporters were being intimidated or barred from coming to polling booths by their rivals but the election officials brushed aside the allegations.

In his reaction after the voting ended, Ibrahim looked unhappy and told The Daily Star the balloting was "not completely fair". "Goons of BNP occupied different polling centres in Deuti and Sonapur unions. I have filed complaints with the returning officer," he said.

No incidents of violence were reported but supporters of AL and BNP chased each other at Singbahura Girls' Academy and Sompara polling centres leaving one injured. The wounded AL supporter, Khorshed Mollah, was sent to Dhaka for treatment.

Huge presence of women draped with back veils was seen at almost all the polling centres along with many marked with vermilion. The number of women voters is about 1.36 lakh, which outnumbers around 1.11 lakh male voters. Besides, a large number of male voters were elsewhere on professional ground.

Physically disabled Rashid Mollah said he cast his vote comparatively earlier as the officials spared him from standing in the queue.

"The voting environment was very peaceful. I wish all the elections were held in such a free and happy manner," he commented.

At Nawabganj Primary School centre, balloting was slower in the morning that sparked resentment among voters. The polling officers attributed women's inexperience in voting for the delay.

The Election Commission had postponed the constituency's vote following the death of Ganatantri Party president and AL-led alliance candidate Nurul Islam in a mysterious fire.

A huge number of police, Bangladesh Rifles and Rapid Action Battalion personnel were deployed across the constituency in addition to strike and mobile forces from early morning until ballot counting was completed.

A ban was imposed on movement of taxicabs, auto-rickshaws, microbuses, jeeps, pickup vans, cars, buses and trucks from midnight January 10 to midnight January 12.

Unaware of such a ban, a number of passengers got stranded at many places in two upazilas.

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Its a glaring example that the last election was a biased one and BNP was routed in a preplanned move by the biased cec and the discredited CG else BNP would have been a stronger opposition. Irrecoverable damage was done to the nation by the by the self interested group of unpatriotics.

: A.B.Mohammed Zakaria

How strange!! within two weeks the voters swinged to other side! It seems tha total difference is between vote-casting rate above 90% and above 70%. Isn't it?

: conscious
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