Twelve killed in Bangladesh election day violence
- Author: Jon Douglas Dec 31, 2018,
Dec 31, 2018, 2:20
Election officials and Law enforcement member carry voting materials.
Meanwhile, sporadic violence marred the polling in parts of the country with officials confirming five deaths while unconfirmed reports put the figure as high as nine with three of them being the ruling party activists.
Prime Minister Hasina appeared as the first voter in Dhaka centre from where her nephew and party candidate Fazle Nur Taposh was a contender. But barely visible are those of its opponents, many of whom, including BNP chairperson and three-time premier Khaleda Zia, have been jailed on what the BNP calls trumped-up charges.
Almost five years later, the same opposition political parties including the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP) are in the race amid accusations that election authorities are not ensuring a level playing field. A credible win would indicate voters are willing to tolerate the erosion of public institutions and their civil rights in exchange for relative political stability and economic growth that has led to a tripling in the country's annual GDP. Almost one in 10 are young voters, including many first-time voters, in one of the world's largest democratic exercises. But as campaigning came to an end on Friday, opposition leaders said they had barely stirred out of their homes.
"Voters are not allowed to enter booths".
The Government has denied the accusations and Ms Hasina's party claims many of its own workers were injured in attacks by the Opposition. One candidate has sued police for shooting him eight times with pellet bullets while he was out seeking votes.
Asked to respond, Helal Uddin Ahmad, the secretary of the election commission, told BenarNews, "We have asked the police and other law enforcers to investigate all the allegations of violence and let us know".
"We're trying our best to have a free and fair election", he said.
"This latest episode of extreme brutality against journalists has already destroyed the credibility of the results of Sunday's elections", Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF's Asia-Pacific desk, said in a statement.
"We ask that you cancel this election right away", Hossain urged the Election Commission, claiming, "we have reports that fraudulence took place in nearly all centres".
On Friday, police in northeastern Sylhet said BNP followers had killed an Awami activist, bringing to three the number of ruling party supporters killed since November 8, AFP reported.
In the case of clashes between supporters of the government and the Opposition, 13 people were killed and thousands more injured.
Street politics has always been violent in Bangladesh, which won freedom from Pakistan in 1971 under the leadership of Hasina's father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
A bitter decades-long rivalry between Hasina and Khaleda - often called "the two begums", or noblewomen - has frequently manifested itself in violence by their parties' student and youth wings. For the opposition, it's the last chance for the world's eighth-most-populous nation to avert one-party authoritarian rule. And other polls show her party remains popular.
Bangladesh ranked 136 out of 189 countries on the U.N. Human Development Index, which factors in life expectancy, years of education and gross national income, jumping 7 spots from 2012. Its economy grew almost 8 percent this year on greater agricultural production and the South Asian country's booming garments exports industry, the second-largest in the world after China.
But the survey of 5,000 respondents also found that Bangladeshis were losing confidence in democratic institutions and processes, with only 32 percent saying they believed this election would be free and fair.
Bangladesh's general election campaign ended yesterday with more deadly violence and arrests of opposition activists which have raised global concern as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeks a record fourth term. "But no one in Bangladesh can see our channel due to the blackout", he said. Many residents of Dhaka had left days earlier to vote in their hometowns. He said the alliance would hold a meeting Monday to decide its next course.