Bangladesh rul­ing party de­clared win­ner af­ter elec­tion boy­cott

The China Post - - CLASSIFIEDS -

Bangladesh’s rul­ing Awami League party was de­clared the win­ner of may­oral elec­tions on Wed­nes­day af­ter the main op­po­si­tion Bangladesh Na­tion­al­ist Party boy­cotted the polls, claim­ing they were rigged.

Can­di­dates al­lied to Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina se­cured land­slide vic­to­ries in the cap­i­tal Dhaka and port city of Chit­tagong fol­low­ing the BNP’s with­drawal sev­eral hours into vot­ing on Tues­day, polling of­fi­cers said.

“I’ve vis­ited quite a few booths dur­ing the vote and found trou­ble in only one booth,” Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner Shah Nawaz told AFP, declar­ing the polls largely free and fair.

But the U.S. em­bassy called Tues­day for a probe into the al­le­ga­tions of elec­toral ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, say­ing it was “dis­ap­pointed by wide­spread, first­hand, and cred­i­ble re­ports of vo­terig­ging, in­tim­i­da­tion and vi­o­lence.”

The elec­tions were ini­tially billed as a test of the pop­u­lar­ity of Hasina and her cen­ter-left party, which the BNP says is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly au­to­cratic.

The BNP, led by for­mer pre­mier Khaleda Zia, had hoped a strong show­ing would add mo­men­tum to its long-run­ning cam­paign to force new na­tional elec­tions. But it with­drew, say­ing vot­ing was be­ing rigged in 98 per­cent of booths.

The boy­cott and al­le­ga­tions of bal­lot-box stuffing are likely to fur­ther en­trench a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis pit­ting the fam­i­lies of Zia and Hasina, who are known as the “Bat­tling Be­gums,” against each other.

Zia’s party re­fused to take part in the gen­eral elec­tion last year on the grounds it would be rigged. It re­turned to pol­i­tics re­cently af­ter three months of crip­pling protests, which were aimed at top­pling Hasina but failed to un­seat her.

Bangladesh has been plagued by un­rest for the last two years and has a long his­tory of deadly po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.

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