Asia - Pacific

Bangladesh holds polls amid reports of violence

Opposition BNP alleges ballot stuffing and other polling violations, denied by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Ekip   | 30.12.2018
Bangladesh holds polls amid reports of violence FILE PHOTO


By SM Najmus Sakib

DHAKA, Bangladesh

Millions of voters in Bangladesh headed to the polls on Sunday in the country’s 11th parliamentary elections amid allegations of fraud and reports of violence.

Today marked the country's first polls with full participation under the ruling party since the restoration of democracy in 1990.

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

At least 12 people were killed since last night, local Jagonews24 reported, and up to 22 candidates dropped out of the race, according to various news outlets.

Local media also reported gunfire targeting opposition candidates.   

Ruhul Kabir Rizvi, senior joint secretary general of the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), gave a news conference claiming ballot stuffing in over 100 constituencies, the banning of opposition polling agents, and voters being blocked from the polls.  

Speaking to reporters after visiting a polling station, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar admitted that he was unable to find opposition polling agents there.  

Police Inspector General Mohammad Javed Patwary told reporters that the election has been peaceful except for a few isolated incidents.  

“I will accept the verdict given by the people,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, reported local news agency UNB, denying allegations of voting irregularities.  

“We don't want violence. We want people to cast their votes peacefully,” he added.

- Over 100M voters

There are some 104 million registered voters, according to Bangladesh’s election commission.

Some 1,848 candidates are running in 299 constituencies, mostly under four political alliances, including the ruling AL Party-led grand alliance, the Dr. Kamal-led National Unity Alliance (Jatiya Oikyafront), the BNP-led alliance, and leftist party alliances.

Over 650,000 members of law enforcement agencies have been deployed to ensure law and order at over 40,000 polling stations.

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