The international press has unanimously denounced Sunday’s election to the 10th Jatiya Sangshad in Bangladesh, with most propagating the fear that the polls marked by an opposition boycott and violence portends an uncertain period for the country ahead.
TIME magazine headlines its report “Bangladeshi Voters Lose Out in Deeply Flawed Election”, and went on to say that the results of the poll “bear little reflection of popular will, and the opposition hopes that the feeble mandate the government is left with will force Hasina to agree to its terms for another election in the near future”.
The New York Times headlined its report “Low Turnout in Bangladesh Elections Amid Boycott and Violence” and reported that “lack of competition produced a bizarre election, especially given Bangladesh’ s tradition of boisterous democracy”.
“I think this so-called election has been clearly and firmly rejected by the people,” Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury, the BNP.’s vice chairman, said to the NYT in a telephone interview.
The UK’s Independent newspaper, under the headline “At least 21 dead as violence surrounds controversial Bangladesh election”, reported that the ruling party had “pushed ahead and held a controversial election that the main opposition boycotted”.
British newspaper The Guardian carried the Associated Press’s report on the elections on its website Monday, under the headline “Bangladesh election violence throws country deeper into turmoil”.
The AP report said that the Awami league “has won one of the most violent elections in the country's history, marred by street fighting, low turnout and a boycott by the opposition that made the results a foregone conclusion.” It went on to say that “the chaos surrounding Sunday's election plunges Bangladesh deeper into turmoil and economic stagnation, and could lead to further violence in the impoverished country of 160 million”.
Election officials who spoke to the AP in exchange of anonymity reported turnout was just 22%.
Amongst the other leading international news agencies, Reuters reported on Monday that the “Awami League ended with more than two-thirds of seats in a contest that was shunned by international observers as flawed and derided as a farce by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). With fewer than half the seats contested, the outcome was never in doubt.”
Reuters also reported the statement by Sayeeda Warsi, a senior British Foreign Office minister, that "It is ... disappointing that voters in more than half the constituencies did not have the opportunity to express their will at the ballot box and that turnout in most other constituencies was low."
French news agency AFP reported on Monday that the government had secured “its walkover win in an election marred by unprecedented bloodshed, boycotts and low turnout”.
"Yes, we can't say it was a universally acceptable election," Communications Minister Obaidul Kader told AFP.
The AFP report goes on to say that an “agreement on a new vote carries huge risks for Hasina, with an eve-of-election poll showing she would have lost in a straight contest with the BNP”.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the “Awami League (AL) of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed has secured a de-facto victory” in an election “mired in controversy and marred by opposition boycott and widespread violence”.
Deutsche-Welle of Germany headlined its report “Bangladesh's 10th general election ends in chaos”, and went on to say that with the “uncontested sweeping win by the ruling party, violence has spilled into a new day”.
Int’l media denounce one-sided polls