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  • Bangladeshi women wait in line to cast their vote on Dec. 30, 2018.

    Bangladeshi women wait in line to cast their vote on Dec. 30, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 30 December 2018
Opinion

The country's election commission said it is investigating claims of vote rigging throughout the country. 

Polls in Bangladesh closed Sunday at 4 p.m. (local time) after general elections marred by a series of violent clashes between rival parties that left at least 10 people dead. 

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Around 104 million Bangladeshis, of a total population of 164 million, were called to vote Sunday to elect 299 parliament members. 

The Awami League, led by incumbent Prime Minister Sheik Hasina, is the most likely to win the elections, paving the way for a third term in power.

As polling closed and counting began, Bangladesh's Election Commission said it was investigating allegations of vote rigging coming from across the country. 

The Election Commission said it would act if rigging was confirmed. At least three voters in southeast Bangladesh, including a journalist, said they were barred from entering polling booths or were told their ballots had already been filled in, Reuters reported

"Allegations are coming from across the country and those are under investigation," commission spokesman S.M. Asaduzzaman said. "If we get any confirmation from our own channels then measures will be taken."

Clashes between supporters of the ruling Awami League and its opponents killed at least 10 people and wounded more than 20, police said, amid reports that more than three dozen opposition candidates pulled out of the first competitive race in a decade alleging vote rigging.

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Opposition groups say more than 8,200 of its members have been arrested and four of them killed in the span of the seven weeks leading up to the poll.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) claims to have campaigned under fear of repression.

They say nearly 2,000 of their supporters had been arrested, including party leader Khaleda Zia who is serving 10 years for graft; a charge she says is politically motivated. 

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 a growth in inequality, despite economic growth. The data shows 35% 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.

These elections witnessed the return of the opposition, which decided to boycott the 2014 elections citing concerns that the election was neither free nor fair.

Final results will be clear early on Monday

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