Bangladesh opposition alliance demands fresh poll

A Bangladeshi woman casts her vote at a polling station in the ancient city of Panam Nagar, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Dec. 30, 2018. (AP)
Updated 31 December 2018

Bangladesh opposition alliance demands fresh poll

  • ‘No scope’ for new poll, says election chief
  • Opposition won seven out of 298 seats

DHAKA: The opposition alliance Monday rejected the result of parliamentary elections and demanded a fresh poll, following a landslide victory by the ruling coalition.

The Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF), led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), won seven seats out of 298 while the ruling coalition alliance, led by the Awami League, seized 288.

The BNP’s secretary-general accused the government of using state resources to secure a win.

“We reject this election and its results. We demand fresh polls under an impartial administration and this must be done immediately,” Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said at a news conference.

Another senior BNP figure, Shamsuzzaman Dudu, described the result as a “betrayal of the nation.”

“The election held on Sunday proves that no fair election in the country is possible under a political party government. Since we have rejected the election, the seven members who have won in their constituencies will not take the oath as a member of parliament and accordingly will not join the next parliament,” Dudu told Arab News.

He demanded the government’s resignation and said there would be talks in the opposition alliance about next steps.

But the head of the Election Commission, K.M. Nurul Huda, told media there was no scope for a new poll and denied allegations of vote-rigging. He also said that voter turnout was 80 percent.

The ruling party urged its supporters to show restraint when celebrating the election win, as the opposition geared up to challenge the outcome. 

“Do not exaggerate while celebrating the election victory. Keep everything in the field of politics, do not take any grudge back home with you,” AL Secretary-General Obaidul Quader told a party gathering.  

“We have to focus on work rather than indulge in celebration. There will be ups and downs in politics and we have to keep that in mind and move forward. We have to solidify this win.”

One expert said that all stakeholders should respect the result as a “verdict of the people.”

Prof. Gobinda Chakraborty, of Dhaka University, said the election had been inclusive and that all major players had taken part, even though there were concerns.

“In a developing country like Bangladesh it is very tough to ensure a 100 percent level playing field. Although there were some shortcomings during the electioneering and voting period the opposition should honor the people’s verdict and join parliament,” Chakraborty told Arab News. “No matter what the number of seats in parliament, there is still good scope for the opposition to play a very effective role as a shadow government.”

Transparency International Bangladesh demanded a judicial inquiry over violations of the election code, saying that reports of attacks and harassment of opposition candidates and their supporters was an “ominous sign for democracy.”

At least 11 wounded in Somalia Al-Shabab claimed attack

Updated 23 March 2019

At least 11 wounded in Somalia Al-Shabab claimed attack

  • Authorities have not said if there are any deaths in the attack
  • The extremist group is fighting against foreign influences which they see as heretic

MOGADISHU: At least 11 people were wounded when gunmen set off explosions and stormed government ministries in Somalia’s capital Saturday in an attack claimed by the Al-Shabab extremist group, police said.
“There can be others inside but we have so far collected eleven people wounded in the attack,” said Abdukadir Abdirahman Adan, director of the Aamin ambulance service in the capital Mogadishu.
Police say the assault began when two explosions were set off near the ministries of public works and labor.
Gunmen entered the buildings following the blasts.
“The security forces rescued many of the staff from the buildings and they are still engaging some gunmen who managed to enter the building after the blast,” said security commander Ahmed Adan.
It remained unclear if there were any deaths in the attack.
The attack was claimed by the Al-Shabab extremist group, which is fighting an armed insurrection in Somalia against what it sees as heretic and foreign influence.
Attacks that use a combination of bombs and gunmen have become a hallmark of the insurgents.
Earlier this month, at least 20 people died in an attack in Mogadishu which saw Al-Shabab extremists battling security forces for nearly 24 hours.
The group also claimed responsibility for a March 7 car bombing near a restaurant in the capital that killed four people.