Central & South Asia

Bangladesh ruling party sweeps violent vote

Awami League's victory was never in doubt after opposition boycotted election, sparking wave of furious protests.

Last updated: 06 Jan 2014 07:01
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The ruling Awami League has swept to an easy victory in Bangladesh's violence-plagued national election, but the result will do little to quell political tensions in the country.

The outcome of Sunday's vote was never in doubt after the opposition boycotted the contest, with 153 Awami League candidates or allies elected unopposed to the 300-seat parliament.

Of the seats that were in play, the Awami League picked up 105, while allied parties or independents won the rest, according to initial results.

But the deaths of 21 people in election-day violence, including attacks by opposition supporters on hundreds of polling stations, have underlined the country's polarisation.

The violence halted voting at about 400 polling stations, while police said they had been forced to fire on opposition activists several times.

The local Daily Star called it the bloodiest election in the country's history, describing the Awami League's win as "a hollow victory which gives it neither a mandate nor an ethical standing to govern effectively".

Low turnout

Voters in modest numbers cast ballots on Sunday amid heavy security, in an election shunned by international observers.


  Infographic: High stakes in Bangladesh vote
  Bangladesh debate: Will polls solve the crisis?
  Bangladesh on edge ahead of election
  In pictures: Bangladesh street protests
  Power rivalry paralyses Bangladesh amid riots

The low voter turnout could pile new pressure on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to find a compromise with the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for holding new elections.

"It is the ultimate sign of protest by Bangladeshi people and tells us that they are unhappy with the way elections have been held in this country," economist Hossain Zillur Rahman said.

The BNP had been protesting against Hasina's decision to scrap the practice of having a neutral caretaker government oversee elections.

The country's $22bn garment industry was disrupted by transportation blockades ahead of the election, and BNP officials have called another in a series of general strikes starting on Monday morning.

Although specific voter turnout numbers were not immediately available, the BNP said the low participation confirmed its view of the poll as a farce.

"The turnout is a clear indication that the common people rejected this election," BNP vice chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said.

Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu, meanwhile, said the turnout did not matter, noting: "What is important is that the people defied violence."


Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Indonesia's digerati could be crucial to success in the country's upcoming presidential election.
How Brazil's football legend turned every Corinthians' match into a political meeting for democracy.
As the Pakistani army battles Taliban forces, civilians in North Waziristan face an arduous escape for relative safety.
Nepalese trade in a libido-boosting fungus is booming but experts warn over-exploitation could destroy ecosystem.
Palestinian families fear Israel's night-time air strikes, as the civilian death toll soars in the Gaza Strip.
China still uses labour camps to silence democracy activists and others it considers malcontents.
Myanmar's Karen veterans of WWII, despite being abandoned by the British, recall their service with fondness.
Sri Lanka refugees stranded on a boat near Australia's shoreline are in legal limbo and fear torture if sent home.
The death of Hamed Shehab on Wednesday in an Israeli air strike has triggered fear and anger among journalists in Gaza.
join our mailing list