Hasina frontrunner to helm Bangladesh again
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emerged as the front-runner in Bangladesh's general election on Sunday as she aims for a record fourth term in office with her Awami League gaining a big lead in early results following a tense vote that saw at least 17 people killed in poll-related violence.
Late in the night, local TV said party the controversial general election. This comes amid allegations by both the ruling Awami League, and the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party of attacks on their supporters and candidates.
Eight of the victims were said to be leaders and activists of the Awami League Party, while the another one was a leader of the Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal.
The voting began at 8 am with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appearing as the first voter in Dhaka centre from where her nephew and party candidate Fazle Nur Taposh was a contender. The polling in 299 parliamentary constituencies of Bangladesh took place between 8 am and 4 pm.
Some 24 Jatiya Oikya Front candidates and one independent contestant have announced to boycott the election, citing that various irregularities, including vote rigging and capturing of polling stations by the members of the ruling party.
They made the announcement halfway through the polling and alleged that the members of the Awami League party have captured polling stations, rigged votes and barred voters from casting votes in their constituencies.
However, Awami League's Joint General-Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak claimed, "I believe that this election had the least conflict in the history of 47 years." Meanwhile, after casting her vote, Prime Minister Hasina said, "I'm always confident about our victory in the elections.
I trust my people and I know that they will choose us so that they can get a better life in future." While Hasina is seeking re-election for a fourth term as the Prime Minister, her rival ex-premier and BNP chief Khalida Zia, who is reportedly partially paralysed, faces an uncertain future in a Dhaka prison.
The violence has marred the polling in parts of the country with media reports putting the death toll at 17. Dozens of people were also injured in the pollrelated violence. A Jubo League - the youth wing of the Awami League - leader was killed and 14 others got injured in a clash between the ruling party and Opposition BNP supporters in Rangamati's Kawkhali, reports said.
The Election Commission announced that the voting process was suspended at 22 polling centres i.e. 0.05% of the total stations across the country.
Bangladesh police chief Mohammad Javed Patwary said that the nationwide polls are progressing peacefully and vowed to investigate the "isolated incidents of violence". Over 600,000 security personnel including several 1,000 soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed across the country to help conduct the election in which 10.41 crore people were eligible to vote.
At least three Hindu households were set on fire by miscreants between December 16 and 26. According to the Election Commission, 1,848 candidates are contesting for 299 out of 300 Parliament seats, and the polls were held at 40,183 stations.
Inputs from agencies