New Delhi: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured her fourth consecutive term in office and fifth overall as her party, the Awami League, won a landslide victory in the general elections held on Sunday. The elections were, however, boycotted by the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies, who alleged widespread rigging and intimidation.
According to the initial estimates, the voter turnout was around 40 per cent, much lower than the more than 80 per cent recorded in the 2018 polls. The final figure could change after the counting is completed, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal said.
The election commission also said that the voting was peaceful in most parts of the country, except for some sporadic incidents of violence.
He said that other than some sporadic incidents of violence, the voting was largely peaceful in 299 of the 300 constituencies. The Commission suspended polling in one seat because of the death of a candidate. The early results show that Awami League is leading the electoral race. So far, unofficially, Awami League has won in 10 constituencies, the Dhaka Tribune newspaper reported.
The election commission cancelled the candidature of a ruling Awami League candidate in northeastern Chattogram at the fag-end of the voting hours as he “scolded and threatened” a police officer. The development left the polls in the constituency to be contested by two rebel candidates who belong to the ruling party as well.
The voter turnout was low as the ailing jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) stayed away from the polls asking people to boycott it. The party alleged that no election under the current government would be fair and credible.
The usual election-day fervour was nowhere to be seen. Even in front of the election campaign booths, there was no presence of voters except the ruling party-backed supporters and election agents.
Voters cast their votes without any disruption in the absence of long queues, leaving presiding officers with idle time.
Voting was cancelled at three centres — one in Narsingdi and two in Narayanganj. The Election Commission ordered the arrest of Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun’s son on charges of electoral fraud in Narsingdi, according to reports.
Shots were fired during a clash between supporters of two candidates running for the Chattogram-10 seat. Two people – Shanto Barua, 24, and Jamal, 35 – were shot and taken to Chattogram Medical College Hospital.
Two people were injured after a clash between supporters of the Awami League candidate and an independent candidate at a polling centre in Jamalpur’s Sharishabari. Four persons, including a child, were injured after two crude bombs exploded near a voting centre in Dhaka’s Hazaribagh.
A total of 119.6 million registered voters were eligible to vote at Sunday’s polls in more than 42,000 polling stations, according to the country’s Election Commission. More than 1,500 candidates from 27 political parties were contesting in the election, besides 436 independent candidates.
Over 100 foreign observers, including three from India, monitored the 12th general election, which is being held under tight security. More than 7.5 lakh members of law enforcement agencies and security forces have been deployed to ensure law and order during the polls.
Prime Minister Hasina cast her vote at Dhaka City College polling centre soon after the voting started. Her daughter Saima Wazed accompanied her. Hasina, 76, has been in power since 2009 and her Awami League won the last election in December 2018.