BD turnout low in election set to keep Hasina in power

Bangladeshis largely stayed away from the polls in a general election on Sunday set to give Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a fourth straight term, after a vote boycotted by the main opposition party and marred by violence.
Rights groups have warned of virtual one-party rule by Hasina’s Awami League in the South Asian country of 170 million people after the boycott by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and some smaller allies.

The United States and Western nations, key customers of Bangladesh’s garment industry, have called for a free and fair election, the 12th since independence in 1971.

Turnout was 27.15% at 3 pm (0900), an hour before polls closed, the election commission said, compared with overall turnout of more than 80% in the last election in 2018. Voting was cancelled at three centres due to irregularities, said Jahangir Alam, secretary of the commission.
The BNP, boycotting the second of the past three elections, says Hasina’s party is trying to legitimise a sham vote. She refused BNP demands to resign and allow a neutral authority to run the election, accusing the opposition of instigating anti-government protests that have rocked Dhaka since late October and killed at least 14 people.
In her latest 15 years in power, Hasina, 76, has been credited with turning around Bangladesh’s economy and the key garment industry. But critics accuse her of authoritarianism, human rights violations, crackdowns on free speech and suppression of dissent.

At least four people were killed on Friday in a passenger train fire that the government called arson. Several polling booths, schools and a Buddhist monastery were set ablaze days before the poll.
A person in Munshiganj, south of the capital Dhaka, was hacked to death on Sunday morning, district police chief Mohammad Aslam Khan said, adding that it was unclear if the killing was related to political violence.
Police in Chandpur district about 110 km (70 miles) from Dhaka fired tear gas to disperse BNP supporters who had blocked roads to disrupt voting and threw stones at security forces, said district police chief Saiful Islam.

Supporters of the Awami League and independent candidates clashed in some districts, amid allegations that ruling party cadres were stuffing sealed ballot papers in voting boxes, local media reported.— Reuters