Bangladesh vote free and fair?

Pub: Tuesday, January 1, 2019 6:36 PM   |   Upd: Tuesday, January 1, 2019 6:36 PM

Sheersha Khobor Dot Com

Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League have won a third term as Bangladesh PM and ruling party, respectively. But it is alleged that the outcome of this election does not deserve the respect that is being proclaimed by the AL. For one, despite the deployment of 600,000 security personnel, at least 22 people were killed in violent clashes. Second is the major threat to democracy that has perpetually existed in Pakistan, too: authoritarian rule under the guise of democracy.

One reporter from the BBC has witnessed that prior to polling stations’ opening, stuffed ballot boxes were observed and officials refused to comment. Similar to the MQM bullying in Pakistan elections of the past, AL workers were reported to be suspiciously on guard at polling stations on the election day to monitor media interviews. This is anathema in the name of democracy and the pretense in the ruling party’s victory smiles is becoming more apparent. While Hasina has been declared the winner, an investigation needs to be carried out to uphold the integrity of democracy. Should the AL have nothing to conceal, the disproving of mass allegations will build confidence in its shattered reputation that has left Bangladeshis disheartened as evidenced by the lower-than-expected voter turnout. Prior to an election investigation, however, allegations of a biased election commission need to be addressed.

Although Hasina is eligible to receive some accolades on the basis of her past performance, there have been many negative aspects of her governance that mar her reputation. She has had several graft allegations in the past, some of which have resulted in charges. What creates further doubts and suspicions that a woman with such a track record would be re-elected for a third time with 288/300 seats for her party by a poverty-stricken nation overloaded currently by Rohingya refugees and militancy. Being the daughter of Bangladesh’s first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, foul play is plausible given South Asians’ obsession with dynastic politics.

The Express Tribune


Sheersha Khobor / A A

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