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Home / World / Elections in Bangladesh: Millions vote Bangladeshi news under threat of violence

Elections in Bangladesh: Millions vote Bangladeshi news under threat of violence

Dhaka, Bangladesh – Millions of Bangladeshi are elected in Sunday's parliamentary elections amid concerns voiced by the right wing over "restrictive electoral environment".

Voting starts at 8:00 am local time (0200 GMT) and ends at 4:00 pm (1000 GMT) in more than 40,000 polling stations. The count will start shortly after the end of voting.

More than 104 million registered voters will exercise their suffrage to elect 300 MPs in parliament known as Jatiya Sangshad.

A total of 1841 Grande Alliance candidates, led by the ruling Awami League (AL) party and the opposition alliance, led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), are competing in elections that have been tarnished by violence and allegations of intimidation ,

Around 600,000 security personnel, including the army, were deployed across the country to stem violence in the eleventh parliamentary elections.

The Internet was completely closed until midnight on Sunday to prevent "rumors," the English-language daily newspaper Daily Star reported. 1

9659005] Electronic voting machines are used for the first time in selected constituencies.

The chief election commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda called on law enforcement authorities to act on Saturday with an iron fist to control the violence.

"If we find carelessness or insincerity during the election service, we will take legal action against them after investigations," CEC said during a press conference at Nirbachan Bhaban in the capital, Dhaka.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeks fourth-term record [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]

Right-wing groups beat government

Rights organizations have criticized the government for having "acted against civil society, the opposition and the media".

A A statement by 16 human rights organizations, including the Asian Human Rights Commission and the ANFREL, announced on Saturday that at least five people have been killed and injured at election violence since 10 December.

"These attacks are intended to scare the Bangladeshi voters, thereby weakening the prospects for equal electoral conditions," said the legal entities.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia S The country also urged Bangladesh to hold "free, fair, inclusive and participative" elections.

Golam Mawla Rony, a BNP candidate in the polls, said he was locked up in his house because members of the ruling party did not allow him to leave. 19659005] Rony, who runs from the Patuakhali 3 constituency in the south of the country, said he had been attacked by AL members on Friday when he prayed.

"One hundred of my followers were arrested and police and Awami leaks go from house to house, threatening BNP supporters not to vote on Sunday," Rony Al Jazeera said over the phone.

"The situation is frightening, I could never imagine that such a situation could exist during a vote," Rony said.

Al Jazeera wanted to call the police for an answer, but could not get an answer until the time of publication.

The allegations were exaggerated "

Gowher Rizvi, adviser to international affairs of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said the opposition's allegations of police harassment and movement restrictions were" exaggerated. "

" Many of these things are overblown. "It's despicable, it's really worrying that there is violence, but if you look at the past seven days, seven people have been killed – all from the Awami League, that's real violence, people have lost their lives," he said Al Jazeera.

He asked the media to investigate the accuracy of these allegations.

"Yes, there are some isolated cases, I have no doubt, it has happened in the past, it is happening now, but do not accept it without confirmation," he said.

Afsan Chowdhury, a political analyst and journalist, said we had "not yet had conflicting elections."

"This election has the highest percentage ever, and I have not seen any elections that are so intense," he said. "The political parties do not see themselves as political rivals, they see each other as enemies," he added ,

"Interestingly, this has been the first choice under a civilian government in 18 years since the 2008 elections were under martial law and the 2014 elections were boycotted by the opposition."

Opposition BNP claims government intimidation [Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera]

Hasinas Controversial Reign

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has become the South Asian nation's longest governing leader, is aiming for a third consecutive term of ten-year rule based on high economic growth.

"I urge voters to cast their votes, I urge the candidates to pick up the results sheets with the signatures of presiding and returning officers," Hasina was quoted by the Daily Star. [19659005] Hasina has headed the ruling AL party since 1981, founded by her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country's founding leader.

She was welcomed last year for tackling the Rohingya crisis last year when she was a million Muslim minority sought refuge in Bangladesh from a military offensive in Myanmar.

During her tenure, the controversial War Crimes Tribunal also began against those involved in atrocities committed during the country's liberation war against Pakistan in 1971.

Al & # 39; s Joint Secretary-General Mahbubul Alam Hanif highlighted the record growth of the South Asian nation of 160 million in the last decade.

"Economic growth rose from 5.57 percent to 7.28 percent, and per capita income rose from $ 500 to nearly $ 1,800, with export revenues rising from $ 16 billion to $ 35 billion," Hanif said.

Professor Chowdhury, who teaches at Brac University, said, "Hasina's achievements are very extensive."

"No one has achieved as much as she has done so socio-economic development," he said, "the bottom layer has profited most from it, this is their great power base, and that has not changed."

The BNP support base is the one that is not satisfied with the Awami league, it's the anti-incubation party, it does not have its own support base, no significant ones, "he said.

The opposition struggle was not matched by the high-decibel campaign led by the ruling AL party in the absence of BNP chief and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who served a 17-year-old prisoner

Their BNP Party joined an alliance, the Jatiya Oikya Front (National Unity Front), with a former ally of Hasina and a respected lawyer, Kamal Hossain, to challenge the prime minister.

On the eve of elections Hossain urged his followers not to be intimidated by threats.

"Vote Tomorrow Do not be intimidated, evil forces will flee from you, you can not fight against human forces," said Hossain, chairman of the Jatiya Oikya Front.

Jobs an important agenda for young people

Employment will be a big agenda for young voters, who make up almost a fifth of registered voters.

Youth unemployment is eleven percent compared to a total unemployment rate of four percent.

Earlier this year, thousands of students took to the streets against the government quota. The government had to do this to agree with their demands.

"There has been abuse of power by the police and the Awami League leaders at the base," said Ismail Zaman, a BNP supporter whose name was changed at his request.

But Mohammad Yusuf, a student at Jahangir University and a supporter of AL, disagrees.

"The great successes of Sheikh Hasina are the reduction of poverty, no corruption in the appointment of jobs in the government and especially the humane treatment of Rohingya refugees."

Additional coverage by Saqib Sarker from Dhaka

INTERACTIVE: Elections in Bangladesh 2018 [Al Jazeera]

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