Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League party won the election, according to local TV reports. At least 17 people were killed in poll-related violence amid allegations of manipulations by the ruling Awami League on Sunday. According to the Election Commission, 1,848 candidates are contesting for 299 out of 300 Parliament seats. The polls held at 40,183 polling stations. Voting was suspended in one seat due to the death of a candidate.
While Hasina was seeking re-election for a fourth term as the prime minister, her rival ex-premier and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khalida Zia, who is reportedly partially paralysed, faces an uncertain future in a Dhaka jail.
According to results announced until 11 pm, the ruling Awami League party won 90 seats, followed by its key ally the Jatiya Party at 13, bdnews.24 reported. Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party won just three seats. BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who steered the party in Zia's absence, won in his northeastern Thakurgaon constituency, officials said. However, the Election Commission has so far confirmed the complete result of only one constituency in southwestern Gopalganj from where Hasina won bagging 229,539 votes, while her BNP opponent got only 123 votes.
The voting started at 8 AM and ended at 4 PM. The results are expected by Monday morning which would be announced by the commission headquarters in the capital, the EC said. EC officials said they have received over a hundred complaints from candidates throughout the country amid reports of violence.
At least 17 people, including a member of a security agency, have been killed in eight districts in poll-related violence, the Daily Star newspaper reported, with dozens injured. The build-up to the election has already been marred by violence. Reports said most of the dead were ruling party activists, while others were workers of opposition BNP or its allies. 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 10 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.
"From the picture we have received, this is a violent election. We are seeing a one-sided election environment conducted at the whims of the government. This paints a clear picture that they want to ensure a favourable result through a one-sided contest," Rizvi said.
Veteran lawyer Kamal Hossain, who leads main opposition alliance National Unity Front (NUF) with BNP as its key partner, said "the overall environment is not bad" with huge turnout of voters. The Jatiya Oikya Front or NUF is a coalition of four parties - Gono Forum, BNP, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD, Nagorik Oikya and Krishak Sramik Janata League.
Over 600,000 security personnel including several thousand soldiers and paramilitary border guards were deployed across the nation for the election in which 10.41 crore people were eligible to vote.
According to eyewitnesses, posters bearing the ruling party's "boat" symbol outnumbered those of the main opposition's "sheaf of paddy". BNP earlier said intimidation and police harassment kept their activists away from the campaign and polling process. "Barring some unwanted incidents, the polling so far was smooth and peaceful...We could tell you at the end of the day if the election was participatory," Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda said.
(With AFP inputs)