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CEC Reports 40% Voter Turnout, Potential for Change

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The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal has informed that approximately 40% of the votes have been cast in the 12th Jatiya Sangsad election, surpassing the levels seen in the 2014 and 2018 polls. However, he mentioned that this percentage is subject to change, either increasing or decreasing.

Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday (January 7th) afternoon at the Election Bhaban, the CEC stated, “In the morning, we observed a peaceful situation. Later, information from various sources indicated no serious incidents of violence. Despite this, we have taken precautions and carried out arrests, handling cases. Unfortunately, two election officials have died due to heart attacks. We extend our condolences to their families.”

Regarding fatalities during the election, the CEC assured that no incidents of violence resulting in death had occurred. He acknowledged some complaints, particularly about tampering with ballot seals, and assured that the monitoring cell was addressing these issues promptly. The CEC reported that one candidate’s nomination had been canceled at the last moment.

He clarified that the final percentage has not been determined yet, but the data received indicates a 40% voter turnout. He added, “Entries have been made based on the available information, accounting for 40%. It may increase or decrease.”

The CEC mentioned efforts by a major political party to discourage voting, resulting in a slightly lower turnout in certain areas. Some ballots were invalidated in specific cases, and these would be excluded from the final count as they lacked proper seals or signatures.

Present at the briefing were Brigadier General Mohammad Ahsan Habib Khan (Retired), Begum Rashida Sultana, Mohammad Alomgir, Anisur Rahman, and EC Secretary Mohammad Jahangir Alam.

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PM Sheikh Hasina Commences Six-Day Official Visit to Thailand

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina embarked on a six-day official visit to Thailand today (24 April) at the invitation of her Thai counterpart Srettha Thavisin, aiming to enhance bilateral relations between the two nations.

Accompanied by her entourage, the premier departed from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 10:13 am aboard a flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, according to the premier’s Speechwriter Md Nazrul Islam.

The aircraft is scheduled to land at Don Mueang International Airport in Bangkok at 1:30 pm local time.

Foreign Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud, during a media briefing on Monday, highlighted the significance of the visit, stating that it would foster new avenues of cooperation between Bangladesh and Thailand.

This visit marks the premier’s first bilateral engagement since the formation of the current government in January.

During her visit, Sheikh Hasina will engage in bilateral discussions with Thai Prime Minister Thavisin and participate in the 80th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Several cooperation documents are set to be signed, including a letter of intent on negotiations for a free trade agreement, an agreement on visa exemption for official passport holders, and various Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) covering energy cooperation and tourism sector collaboration.

The visit will also provide an opportunity to explore the potential Free Trade Agreement between the two countries and address issues such as the Rohingya repatriation process and bilateral cooperation in investment, tourism, energy, and connectivity.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to receive a formal welcome from her Thai counterpart and engage in bilateral talks at the Government House. She will also attend a state lunch hosted by the Thai Prime Minister.

Additionally, the prime minister will have a Royal audience with Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Suthida Bajrasudhabimalalakshan, King and Queen of Thailand.

In her multilateral engagements, Sheikh Hasina will participate in the 80th Session of ESCAP and deliver a speech, focusing on leveraging digital innovation for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.

The session aims to facilitate region-wide cooperation in utilizing digital innovation to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

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Bangladesh-Qatar Strengthen Ties with 10 Cooperation Deals

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Bangladesh and Qatar signed 10 cooperation documents on Tuesday, including five agreements and five MoUs, aimed at strengthening ties and elevating relations to new heights.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani witnessed the signing of the documents.

The five agreements cover cooperation in the legal field, promotion and protection of mutual investments, avoidance of double taxation, maritime transport, and the establishment of a Joint Business Council (JBC) between FBCCI & QCCI.

The five MoUs include cooperation in sports and youth, manpower employment (Labour), diplomatic training, education, higher education, scientific research, and between Qatar Ports management Company “MAWANI QATAR” and Chittagong Ports Authority.

Earlier in the morning, PM Hasina warmly welcomed and received Emir Sheikh Tamim at her office.

They had a tête-à-tête meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, followed by a bilateral meeting.

After signing the visitors’ book, the emir headed for Bangabhaban where the president received him.

A high-level Qatari delegation led by Qatar’s emir is on a state visit to Bangladesh at the invitation of the president and the prime minister.

During the ceremony, a road and a park in Dhaka were named after Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

The park, constructed in Kalshi area of Mirpur under Dhaka North City Corporation, and the road from Mirpur ECB point to Kalsi Fly Over were named after Emir of Qatar.

Now, the road and park are known as Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani Avenue and Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani Park.

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Minister Samanta Urges Hospital Preparedness Amid Heatwave

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Samanta

Health and Family Welfare Minister Professor Dr. Samanta Lal Sen has instructed public hospital authorities to prepare for providing healthcare services as the country faces a severe heatwave.

“Elderly individuals and children are particularly vulnerable during this heatwave. I urge people, especially seniors and children, to stay indoors to avoid heatstroke and related complications,” he stated during a virtual press conference held at the ministry.

State Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr. Rokeya Sultana and Director General of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) Prof. Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam were also present.

Dr. Sen emphasized that the extreme heatwave has created a critical situation in the country, prompting public hospitals to be on standby to offer treatment services.

“In consideration of the health risks to schoolchildren, I have requested the education minister to close educational institutions. Following Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s directive, schools and colleges will remain closed until April 27,” he added.

Dr. Sen mentioned that public hospitals, including Shishu Hospital, have been instructed to take special measures for children. Additionally, dedicated beds have been allocated at Dhaka North City Corporation Hospitals for elderly individuals and children.

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