The people of Bangladesh have given their mandate to the ruling Awami League of Sheikh Hasina to form government for a record third straight term in an election marred by deadly violence and allegations of widespread rigging.
Hasina is set to become prime minister for an unprecedented fourth term after her party secured win in 203 constituencies of the 300-seat parliament, according to results released by the Election Commission for 235 seats until 3am on Monday.
EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed has been announcing the results from the commission headquarters in Dhaka since the voting ended at 4pm on Sunday.
The ruling party is followed by its key ally the Jatiya Party at 22.
The BNP, a key ally of the opposition alliance, has suffered a massive rout with just six seats.
Opposition Jatiya Oikya Front chief Kamal Hossain called the polls a ‘farce’ and demanded a fresh vote citing widespread polling frauds.
Early indications of the massive margin of the victory for the Awami League were visible in the race contested by Bangladesh’s prime minister for the Gopalganj-3 seat.
According to the official results announced by Secretary Helal, Hasina received 229,529 votes from the 246,514 voters in the constituency.
The paddy sheaf candidate for the Gopalganj-3 set was SM Zilani, who received only 123 votes. The turnout at Gopalganj for the race was 93 percent, the EC secretary said.
Bangladesh went to the polls between 8am and 4pm on Sunday. Voting was suspended at 22 polling centres due to irregularities.
At least 17 people were killed in election violence in 11 districts across the country.
OPPOSITION SAYS ‘CRUEL MOCKERY’
The Jatiya Oikya Front rejected the election results and called upon the Election Commission to hold new elections under a neutral government.
The alliance chief Kamal Hossain said they had received similar reports of voting frauds from nearly all voting centres in the country.
“You must cancel this election right away,” Kamal urged the EC. “We reject the so-called results and demand a new election under a neutral government.”
Dr Kamal Hossain and other leaders of the Jatiya Oikya Front alliance speaking at a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday night after daylong voting amid deadly violence. Alleging widespread rigging, the Oikya Front has demanded fresh elections. Dr Kamal Hossain and other leaders of the Jatiya Oikya Front alliance speaking at a press conference in Dhaka on Sunday night after daylong voting amid deadly violence. Alleging widespread rigging, the Oikya Front has demanded fresh elections. At least 31 candidates running independently or as candidates of the BNP, Jamaat-e-Islami or Jatiya Oikya Front pulled out of the race midway.
Asked what steps he would take if his demands were not met, Kamal Hossain said: “We will sit tomorrow and discuss in detail what to do. We will continue our movement to institute democracy. We will provide further details at a later time.”
Asked what he would do if the Oikya Front won the polls, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said: “We are boycotting the entire election. This is not an election. This is a cruel mockery of democracy.”
“We will inform you of our decision tomorrow,” he added. “Many people believe we were wrong to boycott the polls on Jan 5, 2014,” he said. “But today proves us right.”
The Bangladesh government has made sure the election is participated by all parties, Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to the prime minister, has told foreign observers.
In a post-election briefing at Hotel Sonargaon, he claimed the government has also ensured free access for all voters and maintained a “very calm” environment for polls.
“I’m pleased because we have kept the promises we made,” he said. Eighteen people, he said, were killed in the polls and of them 12 were members of the Awami League.
Earlier, HT Imam, political affairs adviser to the prime minister, said, “A powerful team of observers has arrived from the OIC, the Commonwealth and from India. They are high-profile individuals, famous journalists and observers.”
“They’ve all praised this election,” said Imam, also co-chairman of the party’s election steering committee.