Khaleda Zia

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Bangladesh: Opposition members go into hiding following violent national election | Associated Press

Opposition members in Bangladesh have gone into hiding as police carry out sweeping raids after the country’s violent national election, a news report and a rights group said Thursday. The ruling party easily won Sunday’s election, which was marred by street fighting, low turnout and an opposition boycott, with at least 18 people dying in election-related violence. The vote only exacerbated tensions in this South Asian nation, which has a grim history of political unrest. Political violence has convulsed Bangladesh in recent months as opposition activists staged attacks, strikes and transportation blockades to protest Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government. Nearly 300 people have been killed in the violence since last February. After her party swept the largely uncontested elections, Hasina said Monday that her first priority was to contain the violence with an “iron hand.”

Full Article: Bangladesh opposition members go into hiding following violent national election | Toronto Star.

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: 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: Thousands take to the streets of Dhaka as Bangladesh election storm grows | The Independent

Fresh political violence broke out in the Bangladeshi capital on Sunday as thousands of protesters turned out on the streets of Dhaka to oppose forthcoming elections they denounced as fraudulent. Thousands of security officers attempted to quell the demonstrations that left two people dead. Twenty-one political parties, including an 18 party opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), have said they will not take part in the elections scheduled for 5 January, after their demands for the country to be run by a neutral caretaker government during the polls were denied. M Shahiduzzaman, a security analyst and a professor of international relations at the University of Dhaka, said the elections are not democratic or inclusive. The EU, the Commonwealth nations and the US have said they will not be sending observers to monitor the polls because they are not “credible”. “The crisis and the violence is likely to intensify,” warned Mr Shahiduzzaman.

Full Article: Thousands take to the streets of Dhaka as Bangladesh election storm grows - Asia - World - The Independent.

Bangladesh: Protests against Bangladesh election turn violent | Reuters

Violent clashes erupted in Bangladesh on Sunday as opposition supporters took to the streets to protest against a January 5 general election which they are boycotting. The opposition says it will not take part in the vote unless an interim government oversees it and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina steps down. The boycott means more than half of 300 parliament seats will go uncontested, undermining the legitimacy of the election and making it highly unlikely it will do anything to restore stability in one of the world’s poorest countries. The leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia, called for a march on the capital, Dhaka, in defiance of a police ban to protest against what she calls the “farcical” election.

Full Article: Protests against Bangladesh election turn violent | Reuters.

Bangladesh: Army deployed ahead of January elections | BBC

Tens of thousands of troops are being deployed across Bangladesh to try to prevent potential political violence ahead of next month’s elections. This comes as main opposition leader Khaleda Zia has urged her supporters to stage nationwide protests. She says she will boycott the 5 January general elections unless Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina quits and a neutral caretaker government is installed. Ms Hasina’s government has rejected the opposition’s demand. Caretaker governments previously oversaw elections, but Ms Hasina scrapped the arrangement in 2011.

Full Article: BBC News - Bangladesh deploys army ahead of January elections.

Bangladesh: Court disqualifies largest Islamic party from election | The Washington Post

A Bangladesh court has disqualified the country’s largest Islamic party from taking part in the next general election, saying it opposes secularism. The High Court panel ruled Thursday that the opposition Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party’s regulations violate the constitutional provision of secularism. The ruling comes four years after a group of citizens filed a petition seeking to cancel Jamaat’s registration with the Election Commission, saying the party wants to introduce Islamic Shariah law in the Muslim-majority country. Jamaat’s lawyer said it will appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court. The ruling came amid calls to ban the party for opposing the country’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan.
Full Article: Bangladesh court disqualifies largest Islamic party from election - The Washington Post.

Bangladesh: Khaleda: No vote without army | bdnews24.com

The opposition will accept no election with electronic voting machines in use under a partisan government, BNP chief Khaleda Zia said, adding that army will have to be deployed in the upcoming election. “We will not accept any vote under the partisan government. We will not allow such elections in the country. Now they [the government] are conspiring two things, holding the polls without deploying army and getting the ballots on EVM,” Khaleda told a wayside in Jessore on Sunday, as part of her two-day road march to Khulna.

“We want to say that no polls without the army (deployment) will be allowed. The EVMs are vote manipulation machines. We do not accept them.” The BNP-backed candidate was withdrawn from the Narayanganj City Corporation mayoral race only seven hours before the vote on Oct 30 as the army was not deployed.

Full Article: No vote without army: Khaleda | Politics | bdnews24.com.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh abolishes caretaker government for elections | The Associated Press

Bangladesh’s Parliament on Thursday rescinded a 15-year-old requirement that general elections be overseen by nonpartisan caretaker governments — a move the opposition says could allow incumbents to rig the votes.

The ruling coalition of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pushed the constitutional amendment through Parliament with a vote of 291-1, well more than the two-thirds majority needed in the 345-member chamber. The opposition’s 38 members abstained. The caretaker system came under fire in 2007 after a military-backed caretaker government stayed beyond its mandated three months and delayed the voting by about two years.

Opposition lawmakers, however, argue the new rules will allow Hasina to steer the result of the next parliamentary polls due in 2014, and have vowed to protest the move by continuing a campaign of general strikes and street protests started this month.

Full Article: The Associated Press: Bangladesh abolishes caretaker gov't for elections.

Bangladesh: BNP won’t join Bangladesh election commission dialogue | The Daily Star

In a crucial meeting of party policymakers, the main opposition BNP last night decided not to join dialogue with the election commission (EC) on June 13. Sources said the party will inform the EC of their decision through a letter.

The party high command also decided to declare an agitation programme against the government move to bring amendments to the country’s constitution.

The formal announcement regarding hartal may come on Friday, said party insiders after the closed-door standing committee meeting at BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office.

Full Article: BNP won't join EC dialogue.

Bangladesh: Samyabadi Dal says yes, Janata League no to electronic voting in Bangladesh | The Daily Star

Bangladesher Samyabadi Dal ML yesterday supported introduction of electronic voting e-voting system in upcoming general election while Krishak Sramik Janata League opposed it saying the system is not enough to prevent vote rigging.

Leaders of the two parties expressed their opinions in seperate dialogues with Election Commission EC at its secretariat in the city as part of its ongoing dialogue with 38 registered political parties till July 14.

EC launched the dialogues on Tuesday for opinions on key issues like use of e-voting machine; Representation of the People Order; laws on demarcation of constituencies and appointment of election commissioners. Both parties stressed on the need for establishing a free and powerful EC to conduct a neutral election.

Full Article: Samyabadi Dal says yes, Janata League no.

Bangladesh: E-voting in next election says Bangladesh Prime Minister – opposition parties object | bdnews24.com

Electronic voting will be started from next general elections, says the prime minister. Speaking at a discussion at Bangabandhu Conference Centre on Tuesday, Sheikh Hasina said, “The Election Commission will be strengthened to return the people’s power to the people.”

“It is people who will decide as to whom they’ll hand over the reins of power,” she added. Hasina also noted that most of the South Asian countries use e-voting system in elections.

Full Article: E-voting in next election: PM | Bangladesh | bdnews24.com.

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: Election Commission set to introduce electronic polling in Bangladesh over BNP opposition | Gulf Times

The Election Commission (EC) is set to introduce electronic voting machines (EVM) in the coming general elections to stop malpractices during polling but the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, headed by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has already rejected the plan.

Despite BNP’s rejection, the Election Commission will start a series of dialogues with registered political parties on June 7 to take their opinions on introduction of electronic voting machine and enactment of laws outlining criteria for appointment of Election Commissioners.

Full Article: Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper - SriLanka/Bangladesh.