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18 Die in Bangladesh Election Day Violence

  • VOA News

Preliminary results Monday from the parliamentary elections in Bangladesh indicate the ruling Awami League has won the elections, although the outcome was never in doubt because the main opposition party boycotted the poll. Opposition protesters torched polling stations and destroyed ballots as violence across the country left at least 18 people dead.

Officials say voter turnout was extremely low Sunday and voting was halted at more than 150 polling stations due to attacks by activists.

Tens of thousands of troops were deployed across the country in the lead-up to the election, but their presence largely failed to stem Sunday's violence.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party urged voters to boycott what it called a "farcical" election. That move led to the Awami candidates' sweep to victory as they ran unopposed in more than half of the country's constituencies.

International observers refused to send monitors to the election.

The opposition, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, had demanded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina step down and hand over power to an interim government to oversee the election. Prime Minister Hasina refused, saying the traditional practice of doing so has led to political unrest.

The two women have dominated politics in Bangladesh for the last two decades.

The opposition has called for a two-day nationwide strike starting Monday to protest the vote.

More than 150 people have died nationwide in recent political violence, most of them in the past two months.
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