Hasina storms to record fourth term in Bangladesh
Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appeared headed for a landslide win in a general election Sunday even as 15 people were killed in clashes between rival supporters.
Early results showed Hasina racing into a clear lead, winning each of the first 29 seats declared -some by tens of thousands of votes - according to Channel 24, which is compiling results from around the country.
The deadly violence and bitter rivalry that marred the election campaign spilled over into voting day, even as authorities imposed tight security with 600,000 troops, police and other security forces deployed across the country.
According to the Election Commission, 1,848 candidates are contesting for 299 out of 300 Parliament seats. The polls are being held at 40,183 polling stations. Voting was suspended in one seat due to the death of a candidate.
The voting started at 8 am (local time) and ended at 4 pm.
"The eight-hour long voting has ended as per schedule...preparedness is underway to start the counting," an Election Commission (EC) spokesman said.
The unofficial results were expected by Monday morning which would be announced by the commission headquarters in the capital, he said.
The EC officials said they had received over a hundred complaints from candidates throughout the country amid reports that violence killed 12 activists and a security personnel during the voting. Dozens were injured in the poll-related violence.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appeared as the first voter in Dhaka centre from where her nephew and party candidate Fazle Nur Taposh was a contender.
"I'm always confident about our victory in the elections... I trust my people, and I know that they will choose us so that they can get a better life in future," she said after casting her vote.
Schools and colleges across Bangladesh were turned into makeshift polling centres for the day while people had begun to line up to cast their vote even before the election opened.
At least ten candidates - mostly BNP nominees - announced to stay off the polls alleging that their agents were ousted from polling centres by the ruling party workers.
BNP's Ruhul Kabir Rizvi alleged that polling centres are being occupied across the country, the party's agents are being driven out and that its supporters and activists are facing violence.
Veteran lawyer Kamal Hossain, who leads main opposition alliance National Unity Front (NUF) with BNP being its key partner, however, said "the overall environment is not bad" with a massive turnout of voters.
"Barring some unwanted incidents, the polling so far was smooth and peaceful," Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda told reporters.
The 11th parliamentary poll is the first fully competitive
general election in a decade since 2008 while it is widely expected to be won by the Awami League of Hasina, who is likely to be the country's first premier for the fourth terms.