Bangladesh Holds Parliamentary Elections, Sunday

Bangladesh Holds Parliamentary Elections, Sunday
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Published December 29th, 2018 - 18:00 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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Bangladeshi electoral officials carry polling materials at distributing center in Dhaka on December 29, 2018. (AFP/File)
Bangladeshi electoral officials carry polling materials at distributing center in Dhaka on December 29, 2018. (AFP/File)

Bangladesh is set to hold parliamentary elections on Sunday, Dec. 30, its first such polls with full participation under the ruling party since the restoration of democracy in 1990, which ended a decade of autocratic rule.

Four out of six previous national elections held over the last three decades took place under election-time neutral governments, while the last polls in 2014 were held under the ruling Awami League (AL) but were boycotted by the main opposition alliance.

The international community saw the 2014 election as non-participatory and one-sided.

Nearly 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.

The opposition alliance has called the election a platform to protest the “undemocratic” rule of the incumbent government.

Main opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia, now serving 10 years for corruption, is not running in the race.

According to a recent survey, the Grand Alliance led by the ruling Awami League (AL) may win an overwhelming majority of 248 of the 300 seats up for grabs on Sunday.

The opposition alliance is likely to win 49 seats, while victory in three constituencies may go to independent candidates, according to the Research and Development Center (RDC), a NGO which published the poll results this week.

The sample size of the survey was 2,249 and the respondents were drawn from the constituencies of 51 parliamentary seats on Dec. 9-16, said Forrest E. Cookson, an American consultant who presented the findings at a news conference.

 

- Over 100M voters, 1,848 candidates, 300 seats

According to Bangladesh’s national election commission, there are some 104 million registered voters, divided roughly equally along gender lines.

Some 1,848 candidates -- 1,779 men and 69 women -- are running in 299 constituencies, while polling in one constituency has been postponed to Jan. 27 due to a candidate’s sudden death.

A total of 39 registered political parties are contesting the polls, mostly under four political alliances, including the ruling AL Party-led grand alliance, the Dr. Kamal-led National Unity Alliance (Jatiya Oikyafront), the BNP-led alliance, and democratic alliances made up of leftist parties.

 

- Tight security nationwide

Over 650,000 members of law enforcement agencies will be deployed across the country of 165 million to ensure law and order at over 40,000 polling places. Of them, around 170,000 police, including the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and Detective Branch (DB), will monitor security issues on election day.

Mufti Mahmud, the battalion’s legal and media wing head, told Anadolu Agency that all 10,000 members of the force will stay alert to avert any untoward incidents.

According to Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), the Bangladeshi army's mouthpiece, the military will remain on duty in 62 districts on voting day and will stay in the field until Jan. 2.

Members of Bangladesh’s naval force will help civil administration during the election in 18 districts, or coastal areas, the ISPR added.

Over 1,000 platoons of paramilitary border guards will work to keep the peace in 87 bordering areas, the force’s PR head Muhammad Mohsin Reza told Anadolu Agency.

Around 45,000 members of the rural security force have been deployed for the first time to assist regular forces during the election, according to election authorities.

-Hope for same-day results

The balloting will take place between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. (0200-1000GMT), Farhad Hossain Khan, deputy secretary of the election commission, told Anadolu Agency.

He added that results will be posted throughout the night from reports by election officers across the country. “We hope that by that night we will get the result of all constituencies, if nothing untoward happens,” he added.

Under the Constitution, the president will call the winning party or alliance to form a government after a formal declaration of results. Then the winning party or alliance will elect their prime minister, who forms a cabinet.

The first parliamentary session of the upcoming government is likely to take place after Jan. 28, said Khan.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

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