Low turnout in troubled and controversial elections in Bangladesh

Sheikh Hasina casts her vote in Dhaka

NOS News

Today, voters in Bangladesh cast their votes. According to the local authority, turnout is about 40 percent and that is half of the turnout in 2018. The votes are still being counted, but the results are expected tomorrow morning. Not surprising are.

It looks like current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, with her Awami League party, could start her fourth consecutive term next week. The 76-year-old Hasina has been in power continuously for fifteen years, making him the longest-serving leader of Bangladesh. Critics and human rights organizations accuse Hasina of leading the country in a dictatorial manner; they also point to human rights violations.

“I am doing my best to ensure that democracy survives in this country,” Hasina said after putting her ballot into the polls in the capital Dhaka. “Without democracy you cannot make any development.”

‘Choice is limited’

Businessman Sakibul Hasan Chowdhury tells the AP news agency that he did not vote because the choice is limited. “There is no opposition and no candidate of my choice. So what benefit would I get if I voted?”

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) did not participate in the elections. Last year the party announced a boycott. The party began a 48-hour strike on Saturday and called on people to boycott the elections.

Abdul Moyeen Khan, a former minister and BNP leader, spent weeks in hiding with dozens of other party members due to multiple arrests of BNP members. “It was the only way we could guarantee our safety and continue to raise our voices (against the government),” the 77-year-old Khan told AP. “We are not boycotting elections, but false and one-sided elections conducted by this government.”

Wave of violent incidents

Today, 800,000 soldiers were deployed to guard the polling stations and ensure the elections were conducted safely. Two homemade bombs exploded near a polling station in Dhaka, reports DPA news agency. Four people were injured. In addition, a supporter of an Awami League candidate was stabbed to death in Munshiganj district, close to Dhaka.

The run-up to the elections was already accompanied by a wave of violence. Several voting locations and schools were set on fire on Friday and Saturday. There were no injuries.

In Chandpur district, 110 kilometers from Dhaka, police used tear gas against protesters blocking roads. According to local authorities, these were BNP supporters who tried to prevent voting.

Brand in passagierstrein

At least four people, including two children, were killed in an arson attack on a passenger train on Friday. Local authorities accused BNP of the violence, but the opposition party completely denies any involvement in the incident. Yesterday, seven BNP members were arrested for alleged involvement in the fire.

Bangladesh has a population of 170 million and became independent from Pakistan in 1971. This is the country’s twelfth election since independence.

The post first appeared on nos.nl

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