When Selina Akther went to vote in Dhaka in Bangladesh’s general election, she was surprised when the polling agent entered the booth with her. Her surprise turned to outrage, she said, when he then cast her vote. He selected the “spade” button on the screen of one of the electronic voting machines — the symbol of one of the small parties that is part of an alliance with Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League — Ms Akther told the Financial Times. It was not the party she had wanted to support in Sunday’s polls, but despite her protests to the centre’s electoral official, she said, it was too late — her vote was cast.
Her account is just one of thousands of allegations of electoral fraud and intimidation in the election. At least 17 were killed in violence surrounding the poll, which was seen as a test case for Bangladeshi democracy after an opposition boycott of the previous election in 2014.
Sheikh Hasina, the country’s incumbent prime minister, declared a landslide victory in the early hours of Monday. The Awami League and its alliance members won 288 of 300 seats, with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist party taking six. The opposition Jatiya Oikya Front alliance, which includes the BNP, has rejected the result and called for fresh elections.