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Thrashing of teachers delays NA-26 bye-poll result

BANNU: While official count of the by-election for NA-26 Bannu was delayed following thrashing of teachers on election duty by the police, the supporters of NWFP Chief Minister Akram Durrani’s son Ziad Durrani was claiming that he has conclusively won by a huge margin.

Workers of JUI-F and MMA based in the house of Chief Minister Durrani in his native Bannu said their calculations showed that Ziad Durrani had polled more than 70,000 votes. Different leaders of the party said that he had obtained from 76,000 to 78,000 votes.

Earlier, former MMA senator Qari Abdullah said Ziad Durrani had got more than 65,000 votes. The JUI-F and MMA activists said their figures were collected from polling agents deployed at all 275 polling stations in Bannu. However, there was no official or independent confirmation of their claims.

The three candidates who contested against Ziad Durrani fared very poorly in the election. Supporters of Ziad Durrani and other sources said independent candidate Abdul Hafeez advocate received 2,700 votes and became the runner up. In the third place was Dr Habibullah of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party with 2,400 votes. Malik Ashfaq of PPPP was in the fourth position with 2,100 votes only.

All the losing candidates accused the MMA government in NWFP and Chief Minister Durrani of using official machinery to facilitate Ziad Durrani’s victory. They alleged that armed men loyal to JUI-F used coercive methods to influence election staff and voters. They also said that they had sent their complaints to the Election Commission of Pakistan with specific instances of rigging and illegal practices.

Meanwhile, a crisis developed here late Thursday evening when about 35 university and college teachers on election duty went on strike after being beaten up by police in the courtroom of returning officer Asghar Khilji in the district courts. They went to the university and staged a sit-in and refused to hand over the ballot boxes and election material to the returning officer. They alleged that the returning officer ordered police action against them and forced them out of the courtroom.

The teachers were already angry over poor arrangements for the by-election and were irritated further after being kept waiting for hours outside the court of the returning officer. Meanwhile, women were kept out of the election process in different parts of the NA-26 constituency through local arrangement by representatives of political parties and religious elders. The community leaders in a large number of union councils made agreements not to allow poling for women.

Source: The News

Date:3/30/2007

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