12/14/2018, 16.41
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Violence mars Bangladesh election campaign with the death of three government supporters

by Sumon Corraya

Voting will take place on 30 December. Hundreds of protesters from both sides have been hurt; at least a thousand opposition sympathisers have been arrested. Opinion polls give the ruling party a 66 per cent lead. Soldiers will be deployed at polling station as of 24 December.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – At least three supporters of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League (AL) were killed in clashes at pre-election rallies. The vote is set for 30 December.

With the country engulfed in chaos and violence, conscious that violence often mars Bangladesh’s election, the country’s Christians leaders have called on the authorities not to hold the vote during the Christmas period.

The latest victims died from beating and knife wounds in two separate incidents: two in Noakhali, in the south of the country, and one in Faridpur, Dhaka division.

The latter victim was attacked by opposition supporters. “He was rushed to hospital but was declared dead upon arrival by the doctors,” a police spokesperson said.

Today the Electoral Commission announced that army troops will be deployed across the country to protect voting. The military will remain in charge of sensitive areas from 24 December to 2 January, after the vote.

During the ongoing campaign, hundreds of protesters from both sides have been injured and about a thousand sympathisers of opposition parties, including the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), have been arrested.

“Wholesale arrests” are aimed at harassing leaders and activists, said Kamal Hossain, head of the Jatiya Oikya Front. "Our leaders and activists are getting arrested every day,” he lamented. “It’s not a sign of fair polls. But we will be in the election until the end. We must work for fair polls.”

So far, opinion polls have put the Awami League of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the lead with 66 per cent of voter support, far ahead of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of her historic rival Khaleda Zia (who is prison for corruption), which is stuck at 19.9 per cent. Another 8.6 per cent are undecided.

This would give the ruling party between 168 to 200 seats in the 300-member Parliament. “The Awami League’s margin of victory will be even greater than [in] the 2008 elections,” wrote Hasina’s son Sajeeb Wazed Joy on Facebook.

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