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10 dead as Bangladesh votes

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina flashes a victory sign as she speaks to the media persons after casting her vote in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Dec 30. Voting began Sunday in Bangladesh’s contentious parliamentary elections, seen as a referendum on what critics call Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian rule. (AP)

Bangladesh’s Election Commission is investigating allegations of vote rigging coming from across the country on Sunday, a spokesman told Reuters, as polling for a general election marred by violence drew to a close. Clashes between supporters of the ruling Awami League and its opponents have killed at least 10 and wounded more than 20, police said.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said one of its candidates from Dhaka was stabbed while he was moving around in his constituency. Police said the circumstances of the attack on Salahuddin Ahmed were not yet clear. The Election Commission said it would act if rigging was confirmed in the first fully competitive general election in a decade. “Allegations are coming from across the country and those are under investigation,” commission spokesman S.M. Asaduzzaman said.

“If we get any confirmation from our own channels then measures will be taken as per rules”. Reuters reporters across the country of 165 million people saw sparse turnout at polling booths during the election, widely expected to be won by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, giving her a third straight term in office.
Mobile internet was blocked and the streets of the capital were largely deserted as many had left to vote in their home towns. In nine polling centres Reuters reporters visited in Dhaka, posters bearing the Awami League’s “boat” symbol far outnumbered those of the opposition. (RTRS)

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