Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal has clarified that the Awami League MP of Cumilla-6 constituency AKM Bahauddin Bahar was not ordered but requested to leave Cumilla ahead of the city corporation polls.
"Moreover, the allegation that the election results were changed over a phone call is nothing but a rumour," he said during a post-election view exchange meeting with journalists at the election commission secretariat in the Agargaon area of Dhaka on Monday.
"We have worked as efficiently as possible for holding a fair election in Cumilla. Our efforts to make the election more inclusive will continue in the future. We are also formulating a strategy to catch the 'vote robbers'," Habibul Awal said.
When asked if the chaos created while announcing the results will tarnish the reputation of the Commission, the CEC replied, "We observed the election till 8 pm and did not see any commotion. We were observing the overall situation through CCTVs."
On June 8, the Election Commission sent a letter to MP Bahauddin asking him to leave the constituency for allegedly violating the electoral code of conduct by campaigning for his party-backed candidate.
When asked about this, the CEC said, "Bahauddin is a local of Cumilla. We cannot order him to leave and we did not. We have requested him to leave, but it was up to him to respond accordingly. Request and order should not be mixed up."
Awami League candidate Arfanul Haque Rifat won the Cumilla City Corporation mayoral polls on 15 June, defeating the immediate-past mayor Monirul Haque Sakku by 343 votes.
Sakku, the expelled BNP leader who won the last two elections by huge margins, claimed the results were rigged and said he would challenge it in the High Court.
Earlier in May, in response to a reporter's query at the EC building, Election Commissioner Brigadier General (Retd) Ahsan Habib Khan said, "There is only one challenge in EVM polling station and that is the 'robber or terrorist' who stands in the secret room."
In response to a question regarding this alleged 'vote robber', CEC Kazi Habibul Awal said, "I never knew there was a robber in the secret room. But now we know as our honourable Commissioner Ahsan Habib Khan said it. We are thinking of ways to get rid of the robber."