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Bangladesh: Another beating: Sheikh Hasina plans to hang on to office after an electoral farce | The Economist

It is becoming hard to know whether Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s prime minister, is a cynically good actress or cut off from political reality. Smiling before journalists in Dhaka, the capital, on January 6th, she chided opposition parties for their “mistake” in boycotting general elections the day before, then waved aside doubts over the legitimacy of her victory. Either way, her country’s democracy is in a rotten state. Of a potential electorate of 92m (out of more than 150m people), only a minority turned out. The government says just under 40% voted in contested seats; others think much less. It does not give Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League (AL), which has ruled since 2009, much of a basis for another term. Many polling stations saw almost no voters, then suspiciously large numbers of ballots cast late in the day. Of the 300 constituencies, just over half, 153, had no contest at all, since only AL candidates or allies registered. In the capital voting took place in just nine of 20 seats.

Full Article: Bangladesh’s election: Another beating | The Economist.

Bangladesh: Governing Party Wins Vote Amid Unrest | New York Times

Bangladesh’s governing party celebrated its victory in general elections on Monday, dismissing critics who said the vote’s legitimacy was undercut by violence, low turnout and the absence of the country’s main opposition force from the ballots. The party, the Awami League, won 232 of the 300 seats in Bangladesh’s new Parliament, about half of the victors unopposed. Partial results published by Bangladesh’s Election Commission put the average turnout on Sunday at 39.8 percent, though that figure appeared to have been padded by an influx of pro-government activists who arrived at polling stations shortly before they closed. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, receiving journalists in her home on Monday, put the blame on the main opposition force, the Bangladesh National Party, which boycotted the election and carried out a campaign to discourage turnout. Some observers had hoped that the poor results would force the warring parties to negotiate a new, more inclusive round of elections. But Mrs. Hasina took a tough tone on Monday, saying she would not enter talks unless the opposition first renounced violence.

Full Article: Bangladesh’s Governing Party Wins Vote Amid Unrest - NYTimes.com.

Bangladesh: Elections Marred By Violence and Low Turnout | TIME

At least 18 people were killed in elections in Bangladesh on Jan. 5, in a bloody culmination to months of violent protest. With an opposition-led boycott of the vote leaving 153 out of 300 parliament seats uncontested, the foregone conclusion that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her ruling Awami League (AL) would remain in power translated into an abysmal voter turnout of some 20%, according to early reports. News of widespread violence on voting day kept many voters away. Though the streets of the capital city of Dhaka remained relatively quiet on Sunday, dozens of voting booths around the country were reportedly set on fire over the weekend. Other voters were simply disillusioned with the whole process. “It’s a very bad situation,” said Mohammed Abdul Salam, a businessman in Dhaka, who did not vote. “We have no choice.”

Full Article: Bangladesh Elections Marred By Violence and Low Turnout | TIME.com.

Bangladesh: Violence mars poll in Bangladesh | The Hindu

The much-awaited Bangladeshi election was marred by violence as the eight hours-long voting closed at 4 p.m. with reports of low turnout because of panic among voters and widespread boycott by the opposition. Polling ended in all 147 parliamentary constituencies across the country amid attacks by the anti-poll activists which forced the Election Commission to suspend voting in at least 161 centres. A total of 390 candidates from the ruling Awami League-led alliance contested in the 147 constituencies where there was no formidable opposition. Interestingly, in many constituencies, the ruling party candidates faced formidable party rebels. The total number of polling centres was 18,208. The situation worsened from Friday night when opposition activists set on fire as many as 100 polling centres over 49 centres on Saturday and Sunday. They also beat a presiding officer to death in Thakurgaon .

Full Article: Violence mars poll in Bangladesh - The Hindu.

Bangladesh: Premier rules out election cancelation | Arab News

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ruled out Thursday any last-minute cancelation of weekend elections that have been boycotted by the opposition, accusing her rivals of holding the country hostage. In a final address to the nation ahead of Sunday’s violence-plagued polls, Hasina accused opposition leader Khaleda Zia of shunning dialogue and rejecting an offer to share power in an interim administration. “We have tried our best to bring the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) into the elections,” Hasina, who is the leader of the ruling Awami League, said in a 40-minute televised address. “Zia spurned my offer for dialogue and instead chose the path of confrontation. “The Jan. 5 polls will be held in accordance with the constitution,” she added.

Full Article: Bangladesh premier rules out election cancelation | Arab News — Saudi Arabia News, Middle East News, Opinion, Economy and more..

Bangladesh: Bangladesh Election Commission considering bigger role for Electronic Voting Machines | bdnews24.com

The Election Commission is mulling over using the electronic voting machines in the national elections riding on its overwhelming success in the Comilla city polls. Bangladesh’s smallest city corporation went to the vote on Thursday without any ballot paper to mark the first full-fledged electronic election in Bangladesh. The electronic machines were experimentally used in Chittagong and Narayanganj city corporation elections.

Citizens Committee candidate Monirul Haque Sakku, an expelled BNP leader, claimed a landslide victory and became the first mayor of Comilla with 65,577 votes, while his nearest rival ruling Awami League-backed Afzal Khan got 36,471 votes. During the daylong ballot, where a total of 169,273 voters cast their votes at 421 polling booths of the 65 polling centres from 8am to 4pm, both voters and the contestants expressed their satisfaction with regard to the EVMs.

Full Article: EC considering bigger role for EVM | Bangladesh | bdnews24.com.

Bangladesh: Narayanganj City Corporation election was largely peaceful, fair and free | Daily Star

Leaders of political parties yesterday said the maiden election to Narayanganj City Corporation was largely peaceful, fair and free. However, their opinions go different ways from there on with ruling alliance leaders praising the voters for exercising their franchise and opposition leaders bashing the government for “compelling” them to pull out of the race.

Parties of the ruling alliance claimed that the election has once again proved that a free, fair and peaceful election can be held when an elected government is in power, if all necessary arrangements are ensured and voters are enthusiastic. Opposition BNP leaders, however, claim that the government made it impossible for them to stay in the race and they have rejected the election.

Their ally Jamaat-e-Islami refused to even make any comment. Jamaat Assistant Publication Secretary Matiur Rahman Akand only said that they have nothing to say since the opposition alliance has pulled out its mayoral candidate.

Full Article: Free, fair, quiet.

Bangladesh: Opposition strike over change in electoral system grips Bangladesh | Individual.com

Steel helmeted riot police patrolled the streets of the capital today as a dusk-to-dawn general strike called by opposition groups to protest the government’s decision to change electoral system paralysed Bangladesh.

The strike was called after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party announced plans last week to scrap the country’s electoral system under which a caretaker government takes over during election time.

Full Article: Individual.com.

Bangladesh: BNP and its ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami have called a daylong countrywide general strike on Sunday | bdnews24.com

The main opposition BNP and its ally Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami have called a daylong countrywide general strike on Sunday to protest the government move to discard the caretaker government provision for the next general elections in line with a court order.

BNP acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir announced the dawn-to-dusk shutdown at a press conference at party’s Naya Paltan-based headquarters on Wednesday.

Full Article: BNP-Jamaat day-long hartal on Sunday | Bangladesh | bdnews24.com.

Bangladesh: Parties asked to find solution – Former Bangladesh caretaker government advisers warn of instability | The Daily Star

Former advisers to different caretaker governments have urged political parties not to create instability in the country centring the interim rule and suggested that they find a solution on the basis of mutual understanding.

Disputes among the political parties over holding the next general elections might lead to another political unrest, threatening continuation of democracy and public safety, they fear. People of the country now don’t want to see political instability, they said, expressing hope that political parties will bring out a peaceful solution with their wisdom.

Full Article: Parties asked to find solution.