DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh went to the polls on Sunday after violence-plagued campaigning, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assured of a 3rd straight time period in a face-off in opposition to an opposition whose chief is in jail charged with corruption.
Regulation enforcement officers are seen carrying voting supplies together with poll containers forward of 11th common election which will likely be held on December 30 in Dhaka, Bangladesh December 29, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
Cell web was blocked and the streets of the capital have been largely abandoned as many had left to vote of their house cities. Others have been seen trickling into polling cubicles, the place posters bearing the ruling celebration’s “boat” image far outnumbered these of the opposition.
Reuters witnesses from the countryside mentioned that in some locations ruling celebration staff prevented opposition supporters from voting, an accusation Hasina’s Awami League denied.
Tens of millions of younger new voters are registered to vote within the South Asian nation’s first absolutely aggressive common election in a decade. The primary opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Get together (BNP) boycotted the final election in 2014 claiming it wouldn’t be free and honest.
The Awami League, which has touted an improved financial system and growth, is broadly anticipated to win.
“I’ll freely vote for whom I need,” mentioned Manjur Ahmed, 23, a first-time voter who had come to a polling station together with his father. “I need the event of the nation to proceed. I realise some persons are nervous however I’m not.”
The BNP has been hobbled by the absence of its chief, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, 74, who has been in jail since February on corruption expenses which she says are politically motivated.
It stitched collectively the Nationwide Unity Entrance alliance with smaller events three months forward of the polls, however has alleged its supporters and candidates confronted assaults and intimidation, together with shootings and arrests, by the hands of ruling celebration activists in the course of the marketing campaign. The military is deployed throughout the nation, however some BNP leaders and a European diplomat mentioned they feared the election could be rigged.
Hasina’s celebration dismissed the accusations, saying the opposition has been making “one false allegation after one other for months previous to election as polls present a landslide victory” for the ruling celebration.
“I consider that folks will forged their votes in favour of Awami League to proceed the tempo of growth,” Hasina instructed reporters in Dhaka. “The ‘boat’ will certainly win. I consider in democracy and I’ve confidence within the folks of my nation.”
She has already invited international journalists and ballot observers to her official residence on Monday, by which era the election result’s anticipated to be recognized.
“BADGE OF HONOUR”
Annual progress within the Muslim-majority nation of 165 million folks rose to 7.eight % within the 2017/18 monetary 12 months that ended on June 30, in contrast with 5.1 % when Hasina took over in 2008/09.
Over the identical interval, annual gross sales of its financial mainstay, the garment trade, practically tripled, with garment exports price $30.6 billion in 2017/18, making up 83.5 % of whole exports. Bangladesh’s garment trade is the world’s second largest after China. One in every of Hasina’s prime jobs if she retains energy will likely be to handle calls for by garment staff for the next minimal wage.
However she has confronted accusations of accelerating authoritarianism. Her son, Sajeeb Wazed, instructed Reuters on Saturday Hasina regarded such accusations by “Western media” as a “badge of honour”.
At a polling sales space arrange in a highschool in outdated Dhaka on Sunday, some have been afraid to touch upon the polls, describing an environment of concern.
“I hope the consequence will likely be good for us and ‘boat’ will win,” mentioned a polling agent, Mohammed Selim Raj. “Boat is the image of our liberation.”
A middle-aged businessman who declined to be named mentioned: “I’m right here to vote, however my household says, ‘what’s the purpose?’ The ruling celebration will come again in energy in any case.”
Hasina has been praised internationally for offering refuge to Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar, however her authorities is accused of suppressing dissent and jailing critics.
The USA, which has urged Bangladesh to make sure the vote is free and honest, mentioned opposition celebration candidates had “borne the brunt of most violence” in current weeks. “Assume earlier than you act violently!” the U.S. embassy mentioned on Twitter. “Your nation relies on it.”
Hasina and Khaleda have alternated in energy for a lot of the final three many years and that is the primary election the BNP has contested with out its chief.
After intensive efforts by the BNP to get Khaleda out of jail failed, her son, Tarique Rahman, who is needed in Bangladesh accused of masterminding a 2004 plot to kill Hasina, appealed to girls, who make up practically half the 100 million voters, on Fb.
“That is my enchantment to each mom, each girl in Bangladesh: solely you may get her reunited together with her household via the collective energy of every of your votes,” he mentioned.
Extra reporting by Ruma Paul, Serajul Quadir, Rafifqur Rahman and Mohammed Ponir in Dhaka; Enamul Haque in Khulna; Hasibur Rahman in Bogra; Enhancing by Nick Macfie