17 killed in Bangladesh election day violence

17 killed in Bangladesh election day violence
Presiding officers count votes at a voting center after the session has ended in Dhaka, Bangladesh, December 30, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 31 December 2018

17 killed in Bangladesh election day violence

17 killed in Bangladesh election day violence
  • The country’s main opposition party, BNP, has claimed that their candidates and polling agents have faced harassment, and in some cases, physical assault, in 250 constituencies

DHAKA: Seventeen people were killed during sporadic clashes throughout the country as millions headed to the polls during Bangladesh’s election day on Sunday. A total of 47 opposition candidates, including two independent candidates, boycotted the election, claiming irregularities in the voting process.
More than 104 million people took to the polls on Sunday across almost 300 constituencies to elect representatives from among 1,860 candidates.
Although 39 political parties took part in the voting process, the election battle was down to the ruling Awami League (AL)-led Moha Jot and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF). Among the contenders, 272 were backed by AL, while 282 were nominated by BNP.  Seven of Sunday’s clash victims were AL supporters, while three AL supporters were also killed the day before. At least 64 people were injured in 22 incidents of violence across 12 districts during voting hours, according to local media reports. The Election Commission (EC) suspended voting in 22 polling centers due to the chaos at the centers.
EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said: “Legal action will be taken following investigation into election violence.” The country’s main opposition party, BNP, has claimed that their candidates and polling agents have faced harassment, and in some cases, physical assault, in 250 constituencies.
The party has submitted an official complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), regarding the alleged irregularities on Sunday afternoon.
“Polling agents have been kicked out in 221 constituencies,” said BNP Joint Secretary-General Moazzem Hossain Alal. “We have already said before that there can’t be a fair and free election under a partisan government.” In the letter signed by parliamentary committee member Nazrul Islam Khan, BNP alleges that ballots were wrongly marked in more than 150 constituencies. It also said that the voters were intimidated into choosing sides and that many polling agents from the opposition were arrested.
Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary-general of the BNP said: “This election was turned into a mockery. Our democracy has been severely damaged.”
However, he said that the BNP and JOF would hold a press conference on Monday to say more on the general election.
“What a shame it is that we have to discuss election fairness 47 years after liberation,” said JOF chief Dr. Kamal Hossain, who called it a “massively unfair election.”
However, the ruling AL party still claims that the election took place in a “peaceful and neutral” environment. AL Secretary-General Abdur Rahman claimed that BNP supporters targeted AL supporters in different parts of the country during the election and claimed AL would accept all final results. Mobile service providers resumed 3G and 4G services two hours after voting ended. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Saturday suspended mobile data services in an attempt to quell fake content circulating on social media.