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Bangladesh General Election 2018 highlights: Sheikh Hasina wins from Gopalganj-3; opposition demand fresh polls

Bangladesh General Election 2018: Millions of Bangladeshis cast their vote in the 11th Parliamentary elections after the campaign was marred by incidents of violence and threats.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | Dhaka, New Delhi | Updated: December 31, 2018 7:38:12 am
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gestures after casting her vote in the morning during the general election in Dhaka, Bangladesh (Reuters)

Bangladesh General Election 2018: At least 15 people were killed in poll-related violence as voting to elect new Bangladesh government ended on Sunday evening amid allegations of manipulations by the ruling Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who was elected virtually unopposed from the Gopalganj-3 constituency is eying her third consecutive term is “confident” of winning the elections. “I believe that people will cast their votes in favour of Awami League to continue the pace of development,” Hasina told reporters in Dhaka. “The ‘boat’ will surely win,” she added. Hasina, who faces anti-incumbency after being in office since 2009, faces a stiff challenge from a united opposition fighting under the banner of Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF) led by jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jatiya Oikya Prokriya, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, and Nagorik Oikya have come together against Hasina’s Awami League.

Read: Sheikh Hasina wins third term as PM, opposition claims vote rigged

Live Blog

Counting of votes underway in Bangladesh's Parliamentary Elections. Read highlights in Bangla

23:22 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Violence reports from across Bangladesh

While Hasina is seeking re-election for a fourth term as the prime minister, her chief rival, ex-premier Zia, who is reportedly partially paralysed, faces an uncertain future in a Dhaka jail. Meanwhile, EC officials said they have received over a hundred complaints from candidates throughout the country amid reports of violence. 

23:10 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Ruling Awami League party wins 90 seats

According to results announced until 11 pm, the ruling Awami League party won 90 seats, followed by its key ally the Jatiya Party at 13, bdnews.24 reported. Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party of jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia won just three seats. BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who steered the party in Zia's absence, won in his northeastern Thakurgaon constituency, officials said. (PTI)

22:57 (IST)30 Dec 2018
PM Sheikh Hasina wins from Gopalganj-3 seat

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was Sunday elected virtually unopposed from the Gopalganj-3 constituency as she won by a landslide, bagging 229,539 votes while her main BNP opponent could manage just 123, news agency PTI reported.

19:59 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Bangladesh polls: Awami League-led alliance leading in 54 seats, Jatiyo Oikya Front in 1

As per Bangladesh media, Awami League-led alliance is leading in 54 seats, while Jatiyo Oikya Front is leading in 1 seat.

18:06 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Bangladesh Parliamentary elections: At least 15 killed in poll violence
17:39 (IST)30 Dec 2018
At least 13 killed in Bangladesh polls

Voting for Bangladesh's 11th Parliamentary elections ended on Sunday with at least 13 people being killed in poll-related violence and allegations of manipulations by the ruling Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

16:40 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Bangladesh Parliamentary Elections: Voting ends amid reports of violent clashes

Voting ends in Bangladesh amid reports of clashes between the ruling Awami League and opposition parties. According to reports, atleast 10 people have been killed and several injured in the violence. The results will be announced with 24 hours.

16:08 (IST)30 Dec 2018
At least 10 killed in poll-related violence in Bangladesh

At least 10 people have reportedly been killed in poll-related violence in Bangladesh on Sunday. According to a report by PTI, a leader of Jubo League - the youth wing of the Awami League - was killed and 10 others injured in a clash between the ruling party and opposition BNP supporters in Rangamati's Kawkhali, Bdnews24 reported. While one BNP activist was killed in Chattogram and an Awami League supporter died in Rajshahi, the news portal reported.

An Awami League polling agent was killed in Narsingdi 3 constituency.

According to the Daily Star newspaper, BNP men attacked and killed an Awami League supporter in Mohonpur, Rajshahi-3. One Oikyafront supporter was killed in Chandina in police firing.

A voter died during tension between supporters of the Awami League and the BNP in Dinajpur-2. An activist of Bangladesh Chhatra League was killed in clashes with the BNP activists in Cox's Bazar-1.

One Awami League supporter was killed during a clash with the BNP workers at Baghail Government Primary Schoo, under Bogura-4. A member of law enforcement agency was killed by activists of Jamaat in Noakhali-3 constituency.

15:25 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Security agencies keep vigil on minority communities during polling

Over 600,000 security personnel including several thousand soldiers and paramilitary border guards have been deployed across the country to help conduct the election in which 10.41 crore people are eligible to vote. Security agencies have been asked to keep an extra vigil on religious minority communities as media reports said at least three Hindu households were set on fire by miscreants between December 16 and 26. (PTI)

15:18 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Voting underway for 299 Parliament seats in Bangladesh

Pics from Bangladesh's Cox Bazaar where voting is underway. (Source: Narayanan PM)

14:32 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Kamal Hossain asks election officials to discharge duty 'with dignity'

Amid allegations of initimdation, Kamal Hossain, chief of the main Opposition alliance, on Saturday urged returning officers and other election officials to discharge their duties “with dignity”. “If you snatch anyone’s right, remember that someone else is taking away the right of your father, mother, wife and children. If you do this, people, history and the law won’t forgive you,” he said.

13:49 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Bangladesh TV station taken off air for election day

Bangladesh's news channel Jamuna TV has been taken off air, news agency AFP reported. "Cable operators took Jamuna TV off air without giving us any explanation," Fahim Ahmed, the station's chief news editor, told AFP. "We are still transmitting. But no one in Bangladesh can see our channel due to the blackout," he said.

Jamuna Group is known for its independent coverage in Bangladesh. While a top cable operator suggested that the broadcast was stopped due to technical rather than political reasons, Jamuna rejected the theory.

There have been mounting accusations that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government has been stifling dissent and curbing freedom of the press ahead of Sunday's election.

13:24 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Why India was not hot-button issue in Bangladesh polls?

This time, the India factor - which has been part of the pre-election rhetoric in the past — was missing from campaign speeches. Unlike the past polls when BNP accused Awami League of being "pro-India," the party this time nuanced its position, having burnt its fingers in 2014.

What has worked in India’s favour is the fact that it worked on the Bangladesh relationship quite seriously over the last few years. Some of the increased interaction at the highest level is telling. There were 10 meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina, six video conferences and five telephone calls in the last five years — 19 development projects were inaugurated jointly by the two leaders, and they signed over 90 bilateral agreements. India’s development assistance to Bangladesh increased from $3 billion to $8 billion in three years. Bilateral trade has increased by 31.5 per cent from $7 billion to $9.3 billion. But, what was the real game-changer was the ease of visa process for Bangladeshi nationals to India — it has increased three-fold in three years, from 5 lakh in 2015 to 14.5 lakh in 2018.

India has also refrained from issuing any statement, except for asking for “free and fair elections”, unlike many of its western counterparts — especially the Americans and Europeans. Read more

13:09 (IST)30 Dec 2018
In Bangladesh, a 47-year-old war dominates election campaign rhetoric

Sheikh Hasina and her party Awami League have led their election campaign by relying on references to the country's 1971 war for independence from Pakistan. Hasina's father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman won the country that independence, and her Awami League party has run a campaign on reminding the public of "war criminals", "fake freedom fighters" and "collaborators".

Accusing the opposition BNP of being culpable in the war crimes, due to its association with Jamaat-e-Islami - an Islamist group that opposed the independence movement - Hasina at a public gathering asked voters: "Do you want to vote for betrayers?"

Weeks before elections, a tense 'docudrama' on Hasina's life released in cinemas in Bangladesh depicted how most of her family, including her father who is known in the country as the Father of the Nation, was assassinated in 1975 in an army coup while she was away with her sister in Germany. Hasina refers to the BNP as thugs in the film.

(Inputs from Reuters)

12:51 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Scenes from Bangladesh's polling booths

Voters line up at polling booths in Cox's Bazaar to vote in the 11th Parliamentary Elections in Bangladesh (Photo:PM Narayanan)

12:24 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Hasina's son Sajeed Wazed casts vote

While Sheikh Hasina is lauded for her lifting Bangladesh from poverty, critics also accuse her of authoritarianism. Her son, Sajeeb Wazed, told Reuters that Hasina regarded such accusations by "Western media" as a "badge of honour". "Don't you see anti-government posts on Facebook? Do you not see that? You are free to write whatever you want but you are not free to hurt someone. If you write something false and that causes an attack on someone, should there be no consequences?" he added.

The 47-year-old, who lives in Washington D.C. and runs an IT business in the United States has declined to take a senior position in the ruling Awami League. Adding that he was not keen on becoming the prime minister, Wazed said, "Anything is possible, but interested? No. Possible perhaps, but only time will tell."

"The reason people of Bangladesh support the Awami League is very, very simple: development and economic improvement," he added.

12:15 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Abysmal voter turnout in Bangladesh: Report

According to a report in Reuters, low voter turnout has been recorded in Bangladesh across the multiple polling booths. At a polling booth set up in a high school in old Dhaka on Sunday, some were afraid to comment on the polls, describing an atmosphere of fear.
A middle-aged businessman who declined to be named said: "I am here to vote, but my family says, 'what's the point?' The ruling party will come back in power in any case," Reuters reported

"I will freely vote for whom I want," said Manjur Ahmed, 23, a first-time voter who had come to a polling station with his father. "I want the development of the country to continue. I realise some people are nervous but I am not." 

11:55 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Minorities' treatment - major poll plank in Bangldesh

The treatment of minorities is one of the "sensitive issue" in the Bangladesh elections. Minorities form about 10 per cent of the population of Bangladesh’s 16 crore people — Hindus account for about 8-9 per cent, Christians about 0.5 per cent and the rest are Buddhists. The Hindu community is unhappy with the Awami League since some of its MPs have engineered attacks on their property to grab them. To assuage their concerns, the Awami League has given party tickets to 18 Hindu candidates. “We are aware about the threats posed to minorities in the past. While the government is taking measures to address the situation, we are also mobilising the community to not vote for communal forces. There should be a neutral and secular government at the centre,” Nirmal Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association, told The Indian Express.

Besides, the Awami League has said in its manifesto that it will form a national commission for minorities. “All discriminatory laws and systems against minorities and ethnic minorities will be abolished and there will be no discrimination,” it said. The BNP has also promised to set up a separate Ministry for Religious Minority Affairs. “Right to life, property, and social dignity of the minority and ethnic nationalities living in the hills and the plains would be fully protected,” its manifesto states. Read more

11:32 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Politicians, cricketers urge voters to exercise franchise

After intensive efforts by the BNP to get Khaleda out of jail failed, her son, Tarique Rahman, who is wanted in Bangladesh accused of masterminding a 2004 plot to kill Hasina, appealed to women, who make up nearly half the 100 million voters, on Facebook. "This is my appeal to every mother, every woman in Bangladesh: only you can get her reunited with her family through the collective power of each of your votes," he said.

Capital Dhaka’s streets are dotted with banners of youth icon and Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Khan, asking young people to exercise their voting rights. “Ebar Tomar Pala (Now, it’s your turn),” they read.

11:17 (IST)30 Dec 2018
Khaleda Zia sends message from jail to voters

While the ruling coalition is banking on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s track record of “development”, hoping people will favour the ‘boat (the Awami League’s election symbol)’ over the Opposition’s paddy sheaf, and send her to power for a third straight term, the Opposition coalition, the Jatiya Oikya Front (National United Front), is hoping anti-incumbency will finally bring down the government and pave the way for release of BNP leader Khaleda Zia from jail.

The BNP said its chief Khaleda Zia had sent out a message from jail, asking voters to guard polling centres until the declaration of results. Reading out from “Khaleda’s message” at a press conference held in the party’s Nayapaltan central office, senior BNP joint secretary General Rizvi Ahmed said, “I request you (people) to stand in queue for vote after offering Fazr prayers. Guard the centres and stay there until the result is announced. You will get a chance tomorrow to rid the autocratic rule. Go to the polling centres in groups ignoring all threats…”

Bangladesh General Election 2018 highlights

For Hasina, the election will be a litmus test of her policies and programmes, executed during the last one decade of her uninterrupted rule. According to the Election Commission, 1,848 candidates are contesting for 299 out of 300 Parliament seats. The polls will be held at 40,183 polling stations.

One of the poll planks this time in the country is the treatment of minorities, which is seen as a “sensitive issue” that is increasingly attracting attention from the diplomatic community in Dhaka.

The Opposition parties have alleged that thousands of its leaders and activists have been arrested to weaken them. Thirteen people have been killed and thousands injured in clashes between supporters of Hasina's ruling Awami League and activists of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Security agencies have been asked to keep an extra vigil on religious minority communities during the voting on Sunday as media reports said at least three Hindu households were set on fire by miscreants between December 16 and 26, Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda said. High-speed mobile internet services have been suspended until midnight today, “to prevent the spread of rumours” that could trigger unrest during the elections. The government has also banned the use of vehicles on Sunday in Dhaka, except by election observers and journalists.

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