At least 18 killed in Bangladesh election violence.
|Photo: AFP/Getty Images|
David Bergman in Dhaka and Dean Nelson in New Delhi | The Telegraph | 05 Jan 2014 :: Bangladesh's opposition has called a new 48-hour general strike to protest at the killing of its supporters by police during a violence-plagued general election More than eighteen protesters have been shot dead in polling day violence through Bangladesh as security forces clashed with opposition groups boycotting the general election.
More than 100 polling stations — most of them in local schools - were set on fire on the eve of the election and voting was, according to the election commission, suspended in nearly 400 voting centres.
Police said they had opened fire on opposition activists launching arson attacks on the election and attempting to sabotage the poll by stealing ballot papers. One auxillary police officer was also beaten to death by opposition supporters.The violence could well continue after the opposition announced it will continue its general strike for a further 48 hours.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party and 20 other other opposition parties boycotted the election in protest at the government’s 2011 decision not to hand over to a neutral caretaker administration — a break with long-standing practice.
Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League government has resisted international pressure to delay the election and find a compromise to allow all opposition parties to participate. The European Union and other international organisations declined to monitor the election because of the scale of the boycott.
Despite the violence and sabotage, elections were held in 147 of the countries 300 constituencies but the government was already guaranteed victory because its candidates were unopposed in the rest of them.
Badiul Majumdar, secretary of Sujan, a civil society governance movement told the Telegraph the election was “unacceptable.” 'This is an unacceptable election and the government’s moral authority will never be lower. Either the government can initiate dialogue with opposition for another election [or] try and stay in power and then the government will have to apply force and history shows that nobody can stay in power long when their moral position is weak. This will only complicate situation, make the violence more widespread,” he said.
Tofail Ahmed, a senior Awami League figure, said the party was satisfied with the election and would now form a new government.( courtesy : The Telegraph )