The dust was about to settle with the election fever dissipating in Bangladesh. The political scene was slowly returning to an atmosphere of relative calm. Then came a damning report from the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) that uncovered “serious wrongdoings” during the December 30 election. The list of irregularities in 47 out of 50 constituencies surveyed by the TIB includes ballot stuffing in the hours to the election day, fake votes and obstruction of voters. The TIB also said security forces on the scene silently stood by when these irregularities took place. “Law-enforcement agencies, a section of administrative officials and election authorities were seen playing biased roles in the election,” Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, who uses one name, said in a statement on January 15.
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud swiftly dismissed the report as fictitious, imaginary and deliberate. Mr. Mahmud said the report reeks of propaganda by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally, Jamaat-e-Islami. The Election Commission also brushed aside the TIB’s findings. “It’s a predetermined and imaginary report,” Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a record of solid achievements for her two consecutive terms. Per capita income has grown by 150%, and the proportion of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 19% to 9%. “All the greater the pity that her achievements have been offset by a precipitous slide toward authoritarianism,” The New York Timeswrote in an editorial on January 14. “Ms. Hasina’s every achievement will now be tainted by her authoritarian methods and repressive measures; her critics, driven into exile or underground, will become only more strident, and her foreign supporters more wary,” it wrote.
Full Article: Bangladesh election under new scrutiny – The Hindu.