The second phase voting in sixty municipalities across the country ended on Saturday with a few isolated incidents of violence.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Agargaon Election Building in Dhaka after the polling ended, Election Commission (EC) Secretary Mohammad Alamgir Ahmed said the election was held in a free, fair and peaceful manner, with a voter turnout of around 70%-75%.
He added that the EVM (electronic voting machines) has the highest turnout of 60% and lowest 55%, while the ballot has the highest turnout of 75% and lowest 15%. EVMs were used in 29 municipalities.
Responding to a query from reporters regarding the incidents of violence that took place during the election, the secretary said, "I have received reports of violence in one or two out of 600 polling stations. This is not a big deal.
"There are criminals in some areas and they tried to disrupt the election. But their attempts to create unrest were foiled by law enforcement agencies."
Earlier in the day, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar had expressed his concerns over the escalation of violence during municipal elections in a written statement, saying, "Violence is continuously increasing during municipal polls.
"Violence and elections cannot go together. This violence cannot be stopped unless the electoral process changes."
While inspecting 16 booths in three polling stations of the Savar municipality, he had also said the polls cannot be termed participatory.
Although the number of voters was low at the beginning of polls due to chilly weather, it later increased as the day progressed, reported our correspondents. Voting started at 8am and continued till 4pm.
Activists and supporters of rival candidates in some municipalities engaged in isolated incidents such as clashes, chases, vandalism against vehicles and hurling crude bombs during the election.
BNP mayoral candidates in four municipalities – Bhawaniganj in Rajshahi, Mongla in Bagerhat, Kuliarchar in Kishoreganj, and Ishwardi in Pabna – boycotted the polls, alleging that the BNP agents were beaten and expelled from polling centres.
They also alleged that pro-BNP voters and even candidates were barred from entering the centres, and voters were forced to vote for the "Boat" symbol.
In Daganbhuiyan upazila of Feni, culprits hurled two crude bombs at a polling center, injuring five people including an Ansar member.
Meanwhile, chases broke out between the supporters of two mayoral candidates in Shailkupa upazila of Jhenaidah, injuring two people. Ten people were also injured in a clash between the supporters of two councilor candidates in the Mongla area of Bagerhat.
Abdul Quader Mirza – the younger brother of Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader – has been elected as the mayor of Basurhat municipality in Noakhali. He later expressed his satisfaction over the election process in a speech.
AL rebel candidate and incumbent Mayor Mosharraf Hossain Babul of Birganj, Dinajpur have won the polls. Moreover, four mayors and 11 councilor candidates became elected unopposed as their rivals had withdrawn from the polls.
This time, 221 candidates contested for mayoral seats, 2,320 for general seats, and 745 candidates for reserved seats.
The first phase of the election took place on 28 December for 24 municipalities where AL won in 19, the rebel candidates won in 3 and BNP won the remaining two. The third phase will be held on 30 January and the fourth phase is scheduled for 14 February.
Till the filing of this report, AL mayoral candidate Latifur Rahman Ratan has won in Netrokona's Mohanganj municipality. AL candidate Asadul Haque won in the Kendua municipality election of the same district.
In Dinajpur district, AL Candidate Akkas Ali won in the Birampur municipality, AL rebel candidate Mosharraf Hossain Babul won in Birganj municipality and BNP candidate Syed Jahangir Alam won in Dinajpur municipality.
In Rajshahi district, Awami League's rebel candidate Muktar Hossain won in Arani municipality of Bagha upazila. AL candidate Abdul Malek Mandal won in Bhabaniganj municipality. AL candidate AKM Ataur Rahman Khan won in the Kakanhat municipality.
In Kamalganj municipality of Moulvibazar, AL candidate Jewel Ahmed has been elected as the mayor. AL candidate KM Kamruzzaman Majed has been elected as the mayor of Faridpur municipality in Pabna.
Awami League mayoral candidate Billal Hossain Sarkar has been elected in Mymensingh's Muktagachha municipality.
The results mentioned above are unofficial. The Election Commission will publish the official results on Sunday.