Awami League grapples with mass discontent, as voter turnout maybe as low as 10%.

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The January 5th General Election may well be remembered as the day the electorate voted with its feet. WIth the Election marred by controversy, the US, EU and Commonwealth (which had sent hundreds of election observers in the 2008 election) have refused to send representatives, citing the absence of conditions which will ensure that the elections are free and fair.

Reports from local Bangladeshi organisations, the Fair Elections Monitoring Alliance (FEMA) and rights body Bangladesh Manabodhikar Commission, state that voter turnout was 10% or less.

Throughout the day, TV news report showed deserted polling stations. Reporters also uncovered visible electoral irregularities, which were aired live on TV. Indeed clips from such reports have spread like wildfire on social media. The following are summaries of a selection of the footage (with English Subtitles) and some reports. As more footage is subtitled into English, they will be added to the list below.

Early in the day NTV reporter interviewed a representative of an independent election observer organisation, who said he monitored 10 polling stations over one hour, and only 3 votes had been cast

In this ETV report, the reporter talks through footage saying several polling stations in Dhaka are empty. However, suddenly a queue starts to appear in one station. On questioning, the young men reveal that they are not voters, but have been asked to queue by some elder ‘brothers’.

Again, ETV reports that in Sahara Khatun’s  (a former Awami League Minister in current governemt) constituency voter fraud is apparent; on being asked by the reporter for papers, some apparent voters try to escape. However, polling officers, police and other officials seem indifferent, and turn a blind eye to lack of Identification papers.

MyTV Live first interviews the Awami league hopeful in that area. Behind him is a queue of woman who state they have been asked to stand in the queue again, and when questioned why they are queuing to vote again, one woman says she has been asked to do her duty.

Channel 24 interviews polling officers at one station who say that they have had only 1 vote in 3 hours.

New Age Bangladesh reports that ‘Home Affairs Minister Tuku’s son and personal staff allegedly stuffed boxes with stamped ballot papers at four centres in two places in Pabna…Witnesses said that a group of ruling Awami League activists had assaulted polling officials and stamped 475 ballots…’

UNB reports ‘Dhaka, Jan 5 (UNB) – A polling officer at the city’s St Joseph Technical School centre of Dhaka -6 constituency, alleged that about 100 unknown people entered his centre at about 3:30 pm on Sunday and snatched ballot papers from the polling officers …“These strangers forced us to show it to be more than 51 percent,” he told reporters at the Jatiya Press Club…police refusal to help compelled the presiding and polling officers to make a compromise with the strangers to show the voter turnout to be 1,500-plus from the actual 627…’

Ekattor TV report in Khulna shows massive irregularities, with police and officials merely standing by without taking actions. Again shows low turnout in that district.


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