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News > World

Bangladesh Elections Conclude, Opposition Claims Polls Rigged

  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gestures after casting her vote in the morning during the general election in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 30, 2018.

    Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gestures after casting her vote in the morning during the general election in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 30, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 December 2018
Opinion

“We call upon the Election Commission to declare this farcical election void and demand a fresh election under a neutral government,” said an opposition leader.

Incumbent Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina won a consecutive third term victory in the general elections held on Sunday, but an opposition leader said the results were “farcical” and demanded a new vote.

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Hasina’s Awami League won 288 of the 300 parliamentary seats, according to the BBC. There are 300 seats in total and 50 of them are reserved for women.

“We call upon the Election Commission to declare this farcical election void and demand a fresh election under a neutral government,” said Kamal Hossain, president of the Gano Forum opposition party and leader of the Jatiya Oikya Front alliance.

The reasons the opposition is calling for a new vote include violence, intimidation, and irregularities during the voting process.

A spokesman for the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) stated there were “irregularities” in 221 of the 300 seats being contested.

The BNP is one of the two biggest party platforms in the country. Its leader Khaleza Zia is currently jailed on graft charges and therefore barred from participating in the election.

The issues attributed to the ruling Awami League prompted as many as 47 opposition candidates to withdraw from the election on the polling day, according to Scroll.in.

A BBC correspondent claims to have spotted stuffed ballot boxes at a voting station prior to the election where only Awami league officials were present to oversee the process.

A total of 17 people were killed around the elections as a result of skirmishes between supporters of the Awami League and the opposition, police securing a polling station, and activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party reported Scroll.in based on police reports.

The BNP and the Amawi League have taken turns in power since 1991, with the exception of military rule between 2006 and 2008. 

Prime Minister Hasina is the longest-running leader to hold the position. The leader is also known to be a survivor with a history of family killings for political causes. During her administrations, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has tripled.

A survey indicates that during her time in office there has been an increase in inequality, despite economic growth. The data shows 35 percent of people between 20 and 29 years old are not working or studying, The Guardian reported.

Corruption has cost the country about US$2.5 billion, according to the Centre for Policy Dialogue.

The allegations of vote-rigging are being investigated by Bangladesh’s Election Commission. “Allegations are coming from across the country and those are under investigation,” said the commission’s spokesman S.M. Asaduzzama, who added that “actions would be taken” in the event of finding any irregularities.

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