As per current updates, the Bangladeshi general election kicked off at 8 am local time today and is set to conclude at 5 pm. This crucial electoral process is significant as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeks a fourth consecutive term, aiming for her fifth overall term, leading the Awami League-led alliance.
However, these elections occur amidst a backdrop of turmoil. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the primary opposition, and allied parties have decided to boycott the polls, asserting concerns about the election’s credibility. The BNP has even called for a nationwide strike lasting two days from Saturday.
This boycott follows a series of pre-election unrests, including violence and tensions escalating since October. The BNP has accused the ruling Awami League of propping up “dummy” candidates as independents, a move perceived to question the election’s authenticity.
Despite the opposition’s boycott and concerns over fairness, voting commenced across more than 42,000 polling stations, catering to 119.6 million registered voters. The first election results are anticipated to emerge on January 8.
Violence marred the eve of the election, marked by a tragic incident where a passenger train was set ablaze, leading to four fatalities. Additionally, arson attacks on various buildings have been reported, heightening the prevailing tension.
The Chief Election Commissioner, Kazi Habibul Awal, has cautioned that the elections will be nullified if any irregularities during the voting process are identified. Strident warnings against vote rigging, ballot snatching, and misuse of power have been issued to ensure a fair election.
Furthermore, the government’s proactive measures ahead of the elections involved the detainment of numerous opposition politicians and supporters. This move has triggered debate, with government officials emphasizing these arrests as based on criminal charges rather than political affiliations.
International scrutiny is in place, with over 100 foreign observers, including three from India, closely monitoring this pivotal 12th general election, which is being held under strict security measures.
The election holds significance beyond the political realm, especially considering Bangladesh’s economic landscape. Despite previous economic successes, the nation faced challenges in 2022 due to rising living costs and global economic fluctuations. This situation necessitated the government to seek the International Monetary Fund’s assistance to stabilize the economy.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in power since 2009, won the previous election in December 2018 amidst controversy surrounding violence and alleged electoral malpractices.
Sources By Agencies