News / Asia

Bangladesh Elections Marred by Clashes, Low Voter Turnout

Members of the election commission remove election material after hearing news of a possible attack on polling booths by protesters in Bogra, Jan. 5, 2014. Members of the election commission remove election material after hearing news of a possible attack on polling booths by protesters in Bogra, Jan. 5, 2014.
x
Members of the election commission remove election material after hearing news of a possible attack on polling booths by protesters in Bogra, Jan. 5, 2014.
Members of the election commission remove election material after hearing news of a possible attack on polling booths by protesters in Bogra, Jan. 5, 2014.
Anjana Pasricha
Bangladesh has held a general election marred by a low voter turnout and clashes which have killed at least 18 people. The ruling Awami League party is assured of victory due to an boycott by opposition parties, but that could deepen the political gridlock in the country.   

A text message by the Election Commission asking people to go out and vote without “fear and hassle” had little impact on voters as violence wracked Bangladesh Sunday.

Scores of polling booths, mostly in rural areas, were attacked or set on fire by opposition activists hurling homemade explosives. One polling officer was reported beaten to death. Several other people were killed in clashes between police and protesters out to disrupt the election. Voting was suspended in some areas.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party boycotted the election along with several other parties and urged voters to shun the polls.  But it was not just that call or the fear of violence which kept voters away.

Ruling Awami League candidates have won more than half the seats up for election because they were unopposed.  
  
Baidul Alam Majumdar of the Citizens of Good Governance in Dhaka is among those who did not need to vote because the candidate in his constituency had no challenger.  He says most people considered the polls pointless because they were denied a choice. 

“Usually the mood in elections of Bangladesh is very festive," he said. "The fact that the voter turnout is very, very low indicates that people have no interest and people do not think that this is an election they should go to vote for and it is not worth voting for. People are very concerned, very apprehensive, there is widespread violence.”

Television stations showed several polling stations that were nearly empty.

  • Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a press conference after her Awami League won elections, Dhaka, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • A polling officer pours ballot papers from a box onto a table to count during parliamentary elections in Dhaka, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • Protesters shout slogans during a clash with police in Gaibandha, Bangladesh, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • Activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-E-Islami set fire to an office of ruling party Bangladesh Awami League during a clash in Narayanganj, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • Election materials are set ablaze in front of a polling booth after an attack by protesters in Bogra, Bangladesh, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • A girl watches people entering a polling booth as army soldiers stand guard during parliamentary elections in Dhaka, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • Activists of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party and Bangladesh Nationalist Party chase activists of the Awami League during a clash in Rajshahi, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • Army soldiers patrol a street during the election in Dhaka, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • A police officer kicks a protester during a clash after protesters attacked and set fire to polling booths, Bogra, Bangladesh, Jan. 5, 2014.
  • Villagers tend to a man after he was injured during a clash with police in Gaibandha, Bangladesh, Jan. 5, 2014.

The opposition boycott was triggered by the government’s refusal to heed demands that elections be held under a neutral caretaker government as has been past practice. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party has led strikes and blockades since the elections were called.  

In a recent televised address, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she tried to bring the opposition into the election, but they spurned her offer of dialogue. 

There are fears that the political turbulence will intensify after the vote.

Ataur Rahman, a professor of politics with Dhaka University, says the voter turnout Sunday could be the lowest in the country’s history, and this will encourage the opposition to press for new elections. 

“The opposition parties have got the message that people have rejected or the people have no support of this kind of election. So I think they will capitalize on it and continue their movement, unless this government, they declare the election cancelled,” says Rahman.

The international community, which refused to send observers, has also questioned the legitimacy of Sunday’s polls.

Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow for the Asia Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation in Washington says Bangladeshis will not see this as a fair election.

“I think this is a very unsettling situation," she said. "Look we are having election, where the main opposition party is not participating, most of its allies are not participating, both the EU and U.S. have said they will not send election observers, you have the main opposition leader Khaleda Zia basically under house arrest.”

Political analysts in Bangladesh say the new government will have no moral authority, and will have to consider negotiations with the opposition to end the political impasse.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid