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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid