Poll nightmare likely to continue
Violence, low voter turnout and a boycott by all opposition parties has all but made the 10th general election yesterday in Bangladesh a non-election.
Some 154 of the 300 seats in the Jatiyo Sangshad or House of Nation (parliament) were returned unopposed, 41 polling stations didn’t register a single voter all day and around 150 polling stations were torched in polling day violence. At least 100 people were killed before the poll, 18 people died on polling day and at least three people have died in post-election violence. Of the 146 seats that were contested the poll had to be abandoned in eight constituencies and a new poll will be held for them on 16th January.
With around 20 opposition parties boycotting the election and 21 independent candidates withdrawing on polling day, the ruling Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won 232 of the 292 seats in the Jatiyo Sangshad which were subject to the poll; their allies won most of the rest.
Sheikh Hasina has called on the main opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and their leader Khaleda Zia to enter into dialogue with the government; they have refused. Expect the fighting to continue with more strikes taking place until fresh elections are called under a caretaker government (the main demand of the opposition).