Sporadic violence mars Bangladesh polls, Awami League leader found dead

Though the voter turnout is low as of now, it is expected to increase as the day progresses, chief election commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal said

Bangladesh is seeing a low voter turnout for the general elections (photo: IANS)
Bangladesh is seeing a low voter turnout for the general elections (photo: IANS)
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IANS

Sporadic incidents of violence, clashes and alleged rigging marred the Bangladesh parliamentary elections on Sunday as only 18.5 per cent voter turnout was recorded across 42,000 polling stations until 12.10 pm local time, as announced at a press conference by election commission secretary Jahangir Alam, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Though the voter turnout is low as of now, it is expected to increase as the day progresses, chief election commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal said.

Irregularities have been reported from 37 places across the country, the EC control room said. The voter turnout as of 10 am was 8.37 per cent.

Awami League leader Zillur Rahman was found dead near a polling centre in Munshiganj this morning, the Daily Star reported. Rahman was a supporter of Mrinal Kanti Das, the AL-nominated candidate from Munshiganj-3. Munshiganj SP Aslam Khan said the body was recovered but there were no reports of violence from the polling centre.

Earlier in the day, a clash broke out between opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) activists and the police in Chattogram (Chittagong) city's Chandgaon area. The BNP activists, who were staging demonstrations by blocking the road with burning tyres, threw stones on police personnel who retaliated, the police said.

Voting at Narsingdi-4 (Monohardi-Belabo) was cancelled over allegations of ballot stuffing. A polling station in Dhaka recorded only 175 votes, while no votes at all were cast in two centres.

The voting, which began at 8.00 am local time at over 42,000 polling centres, will continue until 4.00 pm local time.

According to the election commission, a total of 1,970 candidates are in the fray for 299 parliamentary constituencies. In one seat, the election will be held later owing to the death of an independent candidate.

The candidates include 1,534 members of recognised political parties and 436 independents.

The BNP had called a 48-hour nationwide general strike from Saturday, seeking resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is set to win a fourth straight term in office as prime minister, with the main opposition BNP boycotting the polls.

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