The Bangladesh elections held on Sunday 30 December 2018 under the authoritarian watch of PM Sheikh Hasina were marred with violence, intimidation, arrests, crackdown on dissent and withdrawal by opposition party members.
“We urge the election commission to void this farcical result immediately. We are demanding that a fresh election is held under a neutral government as early as possible,” opposition leader Kamal Hossain said soon after the election.
Bangladesh National Party (BNP) have alleged that there have been “irregularities” in 221 of the 300 seats being contested. At least 47 candidates from the main opposition alliance withdrew before polling closed, alleging vote rigging and intimidation.
Human Rights Watch South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly said that “with serious allegations of voter intimidation, restrictions on opposition polling agents and several candidates seeking a re-poll, there are concerns about the credibility” of the election.
Although the Bangladesh election commission earlier said that it had heard vote-rigging allegations from “across the country” and would investigate, the commissioner said voting had been held in a peaceful manner and hence there would be no new vote.
The results of the elections declared indicate that Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League has won almost all of the 300 parliamentary seats contested.
Sheikh Hasina’s long-term rival, Mrs Khaleda Zia, was sent to prison on corruption charges earlier this year and barred from competing in the vote, in a case which she claimed was politically motivated.
In Mrs Zia’s absence, Kamal Hossain, leads the main opposition grouping, the Jatiya Oikya Front, which includes Mrs Zia’s Bangladesh National Party (BNP).
Amnesty International has said that members of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami were arbitrarily arrested, human rights defenders were harassed and intimidated, the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association were restricted and enforced disappearances persisted during 2018 in Bangladesh.