17 killed in Bangladesh election clashes; Opposition demands new vote

Was it a farcical election in Bangladesh today? Opposition calls it so with demand for a new vote. Early results make it clear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s party may emerge as a large majority.

However, claims are pouring in of vote-rigging and according to BBC a correspondent witnessed filled ballot boxes ahead of polling at a polling station in port city of Chittagong.

Opposition leader Kamal Hossain urged the election commission to void the result and demanded for a fresh election to the earliest under a neutral government. Bangladesh National Party (BNP) spokesman alleged there were irregularities found in 221 seats out of 300 contested.

Bangladesh Election Commission said the allegations to vote-rigging will be investigated.

Clashes were witnesses at several places between ruling party supporters and the opposition. Seventeen people were killed.

PM Sheikh Hasina said, “On the one hand, they are placing allegations. On the other hand, they are attacking our party workers, leaders. That is the tragedy in this country.”

The Muslim-majority country has a population of 160 million people and faces several issues including Islamist militancy, corruption, economic poverty and devastating climate change. In recent months Rohingya Muslims in hundreds and thousands fled here from neighboring Myanmar.

Paul Linus