Troops patrol streets as Bangladesh gears up for general elections

Saturday, 2018-12-29 09:51:41
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Security was stepped up further on Dec.28 in the capital and elsewhere in Bangladesh with the chief election commissioner expressing hope that tomorrow's polls would be held in a festive atmosphere.
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Troops were patrolling the streets of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka after the Election Commission authorized the deployment of over 12,000 soldiers to assist the civil administration in ensuring security ahead of the parliamentary polls on Sunday (December 30).

Military vehicles and armed soldiers were visible at strategically important places in Dhaka and elsewhere in the county on December 28.

In Dhaka, they were seen mainly checking vehicles at key points of the capital city.

Elsewhere in the country army teams reportedly searched buses, cars and pedestrians.

As part of an unprecedented series of security measures to be in force in Bangladesh during Sunday's general elections, army troops were deployed in 389 out of about 500 sub-districts on December 31 morning. They will stay until January 2.

Nearly 1 million security personnel including army, police and the Border Guard Bangladesh have already been deployed to ensure free and fair elections.

Authorities have already imposed a ban on all types of motor vehicles for the polling day.

Around 1,861 candidates are contesting in the country's upcoming general election for 299 constituencies out of 300.

Election at a constituency election has been postponed by the commission due to the death of a candidate.

Some 100 million registered voters will elect 299 representatives to parliament by casting their votes on Sunday in around 40,000 polling stations nationwide.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seeking a third five-year term in the Muslim-majority South Asian nation of about 165 million people.

In the forthcoming elections, as always Hasina's Awami League-led Grand Alliance will be locking horns with former prime minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies, which boycotted the 2014 elections.

Zia's BNP in October this year forged a new alliance "Jatiya Oikya Front (National Unity Front)" led by Kamal Hossain, once a stalwart of the Awami League, who left the party in the early 1990s and established his own "Gono Forum" in 1992.

Since February, Zia has been serving a 17-year jail term for a graft conviction, which her party said is politically motivated in an effort to sideline her from politics and elections.

Prime Minister Hasina said the issue of her arch-rival Zia is a matter of court.

She accused the opposition alliance of flexing muscles, killing her party's five leaders and activists and leaving over 400 injured since December 10.

In response, BNP spokesman Sayrul Kabir Khan said more than 11,000 opposition men were arrested in a crackdown since the beginning of electoral campaign on December 10.

At least 152 BNP candidates including party Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir were attacked and hundreds of leaders and activists were injured in clashes, Khan claimed.

No police spokesman was available to confirm any figure for the arrests and incidents of pre-polls violence.

Xinhua