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Hasina heading for landslide after deadly Bangladesh election day

Hasina heading for landslide after deadly Bangladesh election day

Bangladesh's opposition alliance said on Sunday it rejected the results of the country's general election, alleging rigging and demanding a fresh vote under a neutral government.

In Ms Zia's absence, opposition parties formed a coalition led by Mr Hossain, an 82-year-old Oxford-educated lawyer and former member of Ms Hasina's Awami League party.

Mr. Alamgir, however, asked his party candidates to stay in the race until the voting ended while NUF convenor Hossain urged voters to "restore democracy" and exercise their franchise.

But they said they should be free to elect their leader, and that a lack of campaigning by the opposition was not helping them decide.

The poll is being seen as a referendum on what critics call Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's increasingly authoritarian rule, amid complaints from ruling party and opposition activists of attacks on supporters and candidates.

Deadly violence and bitter rivalry that marred the election campaign spilled over into voting day, even as authorities imposed tight security with 600,000 troops, police and other security forces deployed across the country.

The leadership of Bangladesh has alternated between Hasina and Zia, allies-turned-foes, over the last three decades. During the election campaign, thousands of government were taken opponent. More than half of the 300 seats in Parliament were uncontested.

Polling stations have closed in Bangladesh's general election.

Bagging only eight seats, the party and its Jatiya Oikya Front alliance have been marginalized to the weakest opposition ever since Bangladesh's post-Ershad democratic restoration in 1991.

On the other hand, HT Imam, co-chairman of Awami League Election Steering Committee, termed the prevailing electoral atmosphere by and large peaceful except for some stray incidents.

Police say they have been working under the orders of the Election Commission since last month.

Authorities have ordered the country's mobile operators to shut down 3G and 4G services until midnight on Sunday "to prevent the spread of rumours" that could trigger unrest.

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The normally traffic-clogged streets of the capital were largely empty because of a ban on vehicles for everyone except election observers and journalists.

"You know what my mother told me this morning?"

There were so far no official reports of deaths or injuries in the election violence.

This election, some 104 million people are eligible to vote, including many first-time voters. The report alleged that investigators had found credible evidence of "repeated instances of arbitrary security force arrest and detention of protesters and political opposition figures, and acts of violence and intimidation by members of the ruling party's student and youth wings", as well as that police forces were not acting impartially during the violence.

Hasina said the issue of her arch-rival Zia is a matter of court.

Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed announced the unofficial results at the EC office in Dhaka's Agargaon around 4am on Monday.

If Hasina retains power, one of her first jobs will be to address the demands of garment workers for higher minimum wages. Opposition parties sought permission to hold a rally in Dhaka's Suhrawardy Udyan grounds, an alliance spokesman Latfiul Bari Hamim told AFP.

"All we want is corruption to be gone and driving licences to stop being handed out like candy", one 17-year-old told the BBC in August.

Both sides were hoping to avoid a repeat of 2014, when Zia and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party boycotted elections and voter turnout in the South Asian nation of 160 million was only 22 percent.

The sample size of the survey was 2,249 and the respondents were drawn from the constituencies of 51 parliamentary seats on December 9-16, said Forrest E. Cookson, an American consultant who presented the findings at a news conference. According to the local media, more than 30 people were wounded in the poll-related violence.

Human Rights Watch and other global groups have decried the crackdown, saying it has created a climate of fear which could prevent opposition supporters from casting ballots.

The United States raised concerns about the credibility of the election while the United Nations called for greater efforts to make the vote fair.

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