Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cruised to victory for a third consecutive term in Bangladesh's general election on Sunday, December 30, following a tense vote that saw at least 17 people killed in poll-related violence and demands of a fresh election by the opposition, according to media reports.
According to media reports, the ruling Awami League-led coalition won over 260 seats in the 300-member House.
Private DBC TV aired results of 299 seats out of 300. The ruling Awami League-led grand alliance bagged 266 seats and its ally Jatiya Party secured 21, while the opposition National Unity Front (UNF) with BNP being its key partner got only seven seats. The election was postponed in one seat due to the natural death of a candidate.
The Election Commission confirmed the complete result of the constituency in southwestern Gopalganj from where Hasina won bagging 2,29,539 votes, while her BNP opponent got only 123 votes.
Bangladesh's opposition NUF alliance, with BNP as its key partner, rejected the outcome of the general election and demanded fresh polls under a neutral caretaker government. The National Unity Front (NUF) is a coalition of parties, including BNP, Gono Forum, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD, Nagorik Oikya and Krishak Sramik Janata League.
"We reject the results and demand a new election under a neutral government," NUF convenor and veteran lawyer Kamal Hossain, who heads the Gono Forum party, told reporters after early results suggested a win for AL-led Grand Alliance.
"We ask that you cancel this election right away," Hossain urged the Election Commission, claiming, "we have reports that fraudulence took place in almost all centres".
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who steered the party in Zia's absence and won from his northeastern constituency, described the polls as a "cruel farce". While Hasina is seeking re-election for a fourth term as the prime minister, her chief rival Zia, who is reportedly partially paralysed, faces an uncertain future in a Dhaka jail.
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, and several others were injured in poll-related violence, the Daily Star newspaper reported. 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.
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.
"Barring some unwanted incidents, the polling so far was smooth and peaceful," Chief Election Commissioner Nurul Huda said.
Citing security reasons, authorities temporarily blocked mobile data services and slowed down the internet