Published: Mon, December 31, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Voting ends in Bangladesh election; 17 killed in poll-related violence

Voting ends in Bangladesh election; 17 killed in poll-related violence

In the election, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League-led Grand Alliance is locking horns with former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies, which boycotted the 2014 election.

Polling stations opened at 8 am local time (0200GMT) and closed at 4 pm (1000GMT).

The vote count will begin on Sunday evening and news channels are expected to call the result early on Monday.

Seventeen opposition candidates were arrested over what they claim are trumped-up charges while another 17 were disqualified from running by courts, which Hasina's opponents say are government controlled.

At least two people were reportedly killed in election-related violence on Sunday morning in two southeastern Bangladesh districts.

The writer is absolutely correct about the economic boom of Bangladesh during the last 10-year-rule of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"We achieved victory on December 16 [1971]".

"I believe that people will cast their votes in favor of Awami League to continue the pace of development", Hasina told reporters in Dhaka.

Bangladesh's general election campaign ended yesterday with more deadly violence and arrests of opposition activists which have raised worldwide concern as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeks a record fourth term.

At least seven candidates - six being BNP nominees - announced to stay off the polls with majority alleging that their agents were ousted from polling centres by the ruling party workers.

The BNP has accused the government of a harsh clampdown which it claims has seen 10,329 opposition leaders and activists arrested. It's unfortunate that in the 47th year of independence we are seeing an election like this. We are seeing a one-sided election environment conducted at the whims of the government. This time, it stayed in the race by banding together with smaller parties, but several BNP leaders say they are regretting that decision.

No announcement, however, came despite the end of voting.

Bangladesh's opposition NUF alliance, with BNP as its key partner, rejected the outcome of the general election and demanded fresh polls under a neutral caretaker government.

"But every minute I receive calls saying 'Kamal Bhai (brother), it has already happened overnight". These reports are concerning.

The Jatiya Oikya Front or NUF is a coalition of four parties - Gono Forum, BNP, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD, Nagorik Oikya and Krishak Sramik Janata League.

The deadly violence and bitter rivalry that marred the election campaign spilled over into voting day, even as authorities imposed tight security with 600,000 troops, police and other security forces deployed across the country. Others were seen trickling into polling booths, where posters bearing the ruling Awami League's "boat" symbol far outnumbered those of the opposition.

She needs 151 seats in the first-past-the-post system to control the 300-seat parliament but experts say a victory would be sullied by accusations that she hamstrung her opponents' campaign and scared people into voting for her. Chief Election Commissioner K.M. Nurul Huda urged law enforcement agencies to remain impartial and vigilant.

Citing security reasons, authorities temporarily blocked mobile data services and slowed down the internet.

"Cable operators took Jamuna TV off air without giving us any explanation", Fahim Ahmed, the station's chief news editor, told AFP.

The broadcaster, which is owned by Jamuna Group - one of Bangladesh's biggest conglomerates, which also runs a newspaper - is known for its independent coverage.

He said the ruling party would reconsider a tough new media law it introduced and another it has tightened if it retains power.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is seeking a fourth straight term in power, was the first voter at the Dhaka City College centre in the capital where her lawyer nephew and party candidate Fazle Nur Taposh was a contender.

Since February, Zia has been serving a 17-year jail term for a graft conviction, which her party said is politically motivated in an effort to sideline her from politics and elections.

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