DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling occasion took an enormous lead over the opposition in a nationwide election on Sunday, early outcomes and tendencies confirmed, in a ballot that was marred by allegations of vote rigging and violence that killed 17 individuals.
A 3rd straight time period for Hasina’s Awami League was broadly anticipated, however the principle opposition led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Get together (BNP) rejected the election and referred to as for a recent vote within the nation of 165 million individuals.
The Election Fee mentioned it was investigating complaints of rigging, whilst a minimum of three voters in southeast Bangladesh, together with a journalist, mentioned they have been barred from coming into polling cubicles or have been informed their poll papers had already been crammed in.
“Allegations are coming from throughout the nation and people are below investigation,” fee spokesman S.M. Asaduzzaman mentioned. “If we get any affirmation from our personal channels then measures might be taken as per guidelines.”
However as outcomes began coming in displaying the Awami League profitable 48 seats and one for the BNP, Asaduzzaman declined to remark if its investigation would have any bearing on the ultimate final result.
Hasina’s occasion was main in 114 seats whereas the BNP was forward in two, in keeping with TV channels. There are 300 parliamentary constituencies in Bangladesh.
“The election is a merciless mockery with the nation,” BNP Secretary-Normal Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir mentioned. “Any such election is dangerous to the nation. The nation has suffered a lot via this election.”
Reuters noticed a gaggle of about 50 girls chanting “Sheikh Hasina! Sheikh Hasina!” on a abandoned avenue in Dhaka as election outcomes began trickling in.
Reuters reporters throughout the nation noticed sparse turnout at polling cubicles through the election. In 9 polling facilities Reuters reporters visited in Dhaka, posters bearing the Awami League’s “boat” image far outnumbered these of the opposition.
Mahbub Talukdar, one of many 5 election commissioners who stirred an argument final week by saying there was no level-playing area for the events, informed Reuters he didn’t see any opposition polling brokers close to the Dhaka sales space the place he voted, suggesting that they had been saved away.
Clashes within the Muslim-majority nation broke out between staff of the Awami League and its opponents, led by the BNP of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. A minimum of one of many victims was attacked by a machete-carrying group, police mentioned, including a person from a paramilitary auxiliary power additionally died.
Police spokesman Sohel Rana mentioned seven victims have been staff of the ruling occasion and 5 from the BNP. He mentioned round 20 individuals have been wounded.
Alleging vote manipulation, a minimum of six candidates combating towards the Awami League withdrew from the competition in Khulna, a divisional headquarters 300 km (186 miles) southwest of Dhaka. Media studies mentioned throughout the nation greater than 40 out of 287 opposition candidates in fray pulled out alleging vote rigging.
Rasel, a 34-year-old voter within the southeastern district of Chittagong, mentioned he noticed police and a few Awami League staff he knew stopping individuals from coming into one polling centre.
“They informed me that ‘voting is happening properly, you don’t must go inside’. For those who attempt to enter, you’ll be in bother’,” Rasel, who declined to offer his second identify fearing reprisals, informed Reuters by cellphone.
The native electoral officer mentioned he had investigated the incident and “discovered lengthy queue in these facilities and folks have been casting votes with a festive temper”. The Awami League mentioned opposition supporters have been wrongly accusing the occasion.
Quickly after voting completed at four pm (1000 GMT), Reuters noticed polling officers unsealing see-through poll bins and pouring the contents onto a blue plastic sheet on the ground of an election sales space in Dhaka. Remaining outcomes are anticipated to be clear early on Monday.
The BNP boycotted the final election in 2014 claiming it wouldn’t be free and truthful. The occasion has been hobbled by the absence of its chairperson Khaleda, 74, who has been in jail since February on corruption prices which she says are politically motivated.
Hasina and Khaleda have alternated in energy for many of the final three many years and that is the primary election the BNP has contested with out its chief.
It stitched collectively the Nationwide Unity Entrance alliance with smaller events, however has alleged its supporters and candidates confronted assaults and intimidation, together with shootings and arrests, by the hands of ruling occasion activists throughout campaigning.
Hasina’s occasion has denied the fees.
After voting in Dhaka, she informed reporters individuals favored her occasion to “proceed the tempo of growth”. She has already invited international journalists and ballot observers to her official residence on Monday.
Underneath Hasina, the nation’s $280 billion economic system grew 7.eight p.c within the 2017/18 monetary 12 months that ended on June 30, in contrast with 5.1 p.c when Hasina took over in 2008/09.
Over the identical interval, annual gross sales of its financial mainstay, the garment trade, almost tripled, with garment exports value $30.6 billion in 2017/18, making up 83.5 p.c of whole exports. One in every of Hasina’s high jobs if she retains energy might be to deal with calls for by garment staff for a better minimal wage.
At a polling sales space in outdated Dhaka on Sunday, some have been afraid to touch upon the polls, describing an environment of worry.
A middle-aged businessman who declined to be named mentioned: “I’m right here to vote, however my household says, ‘what’s the purpose?’ The ruling occasion will come again in energy in any case.”
Hasina has been praised internationally for offering refuge to Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, however her authorities is accused of suppressing dissent and jailing critics.
Hasina has confronted accusations within the West of accelerating authoritarianism. Her son, Wazed, informed Reuters Hasina regarded such accusations as a “badge of honor”.
Further reporting by Ruma Paul, Serajul Quadir, Rafifqur Rahman and Mohammed Ponir in Dhaka; Enamul Haque in Khulna; Hasibur Rahman in Bogra; Nazimuddin Shyamol in Chitagong; Nurul Islam is Cox’s Bazar; Enhancing by Nick Macfie, William Maclean