Greater than a dozen individuals have been killed in election-related violence in Bangladesh on Sunday, as voters went to the polls to determine whether or not to present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a 3rd consecutive time period amid opposition claims that her management has turn out to be more and more authoritarian.
The chief of Bangladesh’s opposition alliance referred to as Sunday’s vote “farcical,” saying any consequence could be rejected and demanding new election be held below the authority of a “nonpartisan authorities.”
The election marketing campaign was marred by allegations of arrests and jailing of 1000’s of Hasina’s opponents.
Opposition chief Kamal Hossain mentioned just a few hours after voting ended that about 100 candidates from the alliance had withdrawn from their races throughout the day. He mentioned the alliance would maintain a gathering Monday to determine its subsequent course.
“We name upon the Election Fee to declare this election void and demand a contemporary election below a nonpartisan authorities,” Hossain advised reporters at a nationally broadcast information convention.
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Calls to a number of Hasina aides in search of remark weren’t instantly returned.
Bangladesh’s main English-language newspaper, the Every day Star, mentioned 16 individuals have been killed in 13 districts in election-related violence.
Within the run-up to the election, activists from each the ruling get together and the opposition complained of assaults on supporters and candidates.
On Sunday, The Related Press obtained greater than 50 calls from individuals throughout the nation who recognized themselves as opposition supporters complaining of intimidation and threats, and being compelled to vote in entrance of ruling get together males inside polling cubicles.
“Some stray incidents have occurred. We have now requested our officers to cope with them,” Okay.M. Nurul Huda, Bangladesh’s chief election commissioner, mentioned as he solid his vote within the capital, Dhaka.
The election marketing campaign was marred by the arrests and jailing of what the opposition mentioned have been 1000’s of Hasina opponents, together with six candidates for Parliament.
“Hasina’s use of the state equipment to subjugate the opposition nearly ensures her electoral victory,” mentioned Sasha Riser-Kositsky, a South Asia analyst for the New York-based Eurasia Group.
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Hasina has expressed confidence within the consequence, inviting election observers and international journalists to her official residence on Monday, when the outcomes have been anticipated to be recognized.
Whereas rights teams have sounded the alarms concerning the erosion of Bangladesh’s democracy, Hasina has promoted a unique narrative, highlighting an bold financial agenda that has propelled Bangladesh previous bigger neighbors Pakistan and India by some improvement measures.
Voters “will give us one other alternative to serve them in order that we are able to keep our upward development of improvement, and take Bangladesh ahead as a growing nation,” Hasina mentioned after casting her poll alongside along with her daughter and sister in Dhaka.
Hasina’s important rival is former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the chief of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Occasion, who a court docket deemed ineligible to run for workplace as a result of she is in jail for corruption.
The 2 ladies have been out and in of energy — and jail — for many years.
In Zia’s absence, opposition events fashioned a coalition led by Hossain, an 82-year-old Oxford-educated lawyer and former member of Hasina’s Awami League get together.
Each side have been hoping to keep away from a repeat of 2014, when Zia and the Bangladesh Nationalist Occasion boycotted elections and voter turnout within the South Asian nation of 160 million was solely 22 %. Greater than half of the 300 parliamentary seats have been uncontested. The Awami League’s landslide victory was met with violence that left no less than 22 individuals lifeless.
On Sunday, some 104 million individuals within the Muslim-majority nation have been eligible to vote, together with many younger, first-time voters.
Strolling with a cane, Hossain solid his vote close to his house in Dhaka, saying he was receiving complaints about vote-tampering and intimidation from numerous elements of the nation.
The greater than 40,000 polling stations nationwide closed at four p.m., because the Islamic name to prayer came visiting loudspeakers.
At a polling station within the historic metropolis of Panam Nagar, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Dhaka, the counting of the roughly 1,600 votes solid started instantly after voting ended. Plastic bins filled with paper ballots have been dumped onto a sheet on the ground, the place 10 individuals sat in a circle to prepare and depend the votes.
One of many voters there, Haji Abdul Malek Mia, a 74-year-old father of 5 sons, mentioned he wished to see somebody in energy who would provide improvement. “Whoever is doing improvement, he must be there,” he mentioned.
About 600,000 safety officers, together with military and paramilitary forces, have been deployed throughout the nation in a bid to include violence in Bangladesh’s 11th basic election. The nation’s telecommunications regulator shut down cellular web companies nationwide to stop potential protests from organizing.
The usually traffic-clogged streets of the capital have been largely empty due to a ban on autos for everybody besides election observers and journalists. Many Dhaka residents had left days earlier to vote of their hometowns.
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At one polling station, Istiaq Ahmed, a health care provider in Dhaka, mentioned it was vital that folks “choose the suitable authorities to keep up the event and enrich our nation additional.”
One other voter, Sultana Rajia Rotna, mentioned she went out to solid her poll after listening to that the streets of Dhaka have been peaceable.
“I feel the nation has already developed a lot and will probably be developed extra,” she mentioned in Bengali. “That’s why I’m right here casting my vote.”