Clashes, rigging allegations mar Bangladesh poll amid thin turnout

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However, voting has been postponed in the Jhenaidah 3 constituency by the Bangladesh Election Commission to January 27, 2019, due to the death of four supporters of the Jatiya Oikya Front's (National Unity Front) candidate.

The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB arrested eight people yesterday night for circulating "provocative videos and rumors" on social media relating to the parliamentary election.

They won just seven seats and have demanded a new vote.

"We reject the results and demand a new election under a neutral government, Kamal Hossain, an octogenarian global jurist who heads the opposition alliance, told a news conference".

"We achieved victory on December 16 [1971]".

The United States has raised concerns about the elections while the United Nations called for greater efforts to make the vote fair.

Authorities have deployed around 600,000 police, army and other security forces ahead of Sunday's vote, a senior official said, following a deadly campaign of clashes and the arrests of opposition activists.

Initial trends indicated a landslide victory for the Awami League and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returning to power.

Around 1,861 candidates are contesting for 299 out of the 300 directly-elected parliamentary constituencies.

Soon before polls opened, a BBC correspondent saw filled ballot boxes at a polling centre in the port city of Chittagong.

But as results started coming in showing the Awami League winning 48 seats and one for the BNP, Asaduzzaman declined to comment if its investigation would have any bearing on the final outcome.

At a polling centre in the Umkhali south of Chittagong, a cab driver named Ali said his family had to turn back from the polling centre as ruling party workers there told them their votes had already been cast.

At least 28 candidates from the main opposition alliance withdrew before polling closed, alleging vote rigging and intimidation.

"BNP-Jamaat activists have carried out heinous attacks targeting Awami League leaders and activists; as a result, 10 Awami League activists and two Ansar members were killed by BNP-Jamaat men", he claimed.

"History will remember Sheikh Hasina as one of them", he said in the Facebook post. "That is the tragedy in this country".

The Congress president had locked Modi in a surprise hug after excoriating his government during a no-confidence debate in July, his subsequent wink suggesting that at least part of his objective was to unsettle the Prime Minister and go one-up on him.

"They told me not to bother, "We'll cast your vote on your behalf", he told AFP.

It wasn't hard to see why he felt intimidated.

"Democracy and development [have been] made to appear mutually exclusive, with the ruling party members and MPs going to the extent of rooting for development at the cost of democracy", said Shahedul Anam Khan, a retired brigadier general and opinion columnist.

In Zia's absence, opposition parties formed a coalition led by Hossain. The credibility of an election is not defined exclusively on competitiveness and orderliness of the process, but most importantly, on the quality of the electoral environment.

Hasina is seeking a third five-year term in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation of about 165 million people.

Hasina has been praised internationally for providing refuge to Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, but her government is accused of suppressing dissent and jailing critics.

Hasina rejects accusations of creeping authoritarianism but analysts say she mounted the clampdown over fears that young voters were set to hand a victory to the BNP.

When the founding leader of Bangladesh, father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was assassinated in 1975 after helping achieve independence from Pakistan, then-Foreign Minister Kamal Hossain abandoned a state visit in Europe to rush to her side.

"From the picture we have received, this is a violent election".

Almost five years later, the same opposition political parties including the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalists Party (BNP) are in the race amid accusations that election authorities are not ensuring a level playing field.

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