Bangladesh deploys 600,000 security forces ahead of elections

UN calls for ‘credible’ election in Bangladesh

At least 15 people were killed in election-related clashes in Bangladesh on Sunday, local police officials told CNN.

Hasina's main rival is former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, who a court deemed ineligible to run for office because she is in prison for corruption.

About 600,000 security officials, including army and paramilitary forces, have been deployed across the country in a bid to contain violence in Bangladesh's 11th general election. "Journalism is surely not for increasing conflict, or for tarnishing the image of the country", she said. The presiding officer declined to comment.

If Hasina retains power, one of her first jobs will be to address the demands of garment workers for higher minimum wages.

He said South Korea's Samsung Electronics had already started a mobile phone assembly plant in Bangladesh and its South Korean rival LG had acquired land to open an electronics assembly plant. Amid global concern over events, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed for calm. "This type of election is harmful to the nation".

Street politics has always been violent in Bangladesh, which won freedom from Pakistan in 1971 under the leadership of Hasina's father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. "We call them Hasina's armed cadres".

According to the eyewitnesses, posters bearing the ruling party's "boat" symbol outnumbered those of the main opposition's "sheaf of paddy".

"We are getting disturbing reports outside Dhaka that overnight votes have been cast illegally", said Kamal Hossain, the 82-year-old architect of Bangladesh's constitution who is helming the opposition coalition.

Bangladesh police chief Mohammad Javed Patwary said the nationwide polls are "progressing peacefully" and vowed to investigate the "isolated" incidents of violence.

Human Rights Watch's Asia director, Brad Adams, told CNN that "the police and election commission should not appear to be acting like extensions of the ruling party". He said around 20 people were wounded.

The election campaign itself was marred by the arrests and jailing of what the opposition says are thousands of Hasina opponents, including six candidates for parliament.

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As Bangladeshis get set for Sunday's parliamentary elections, there are fears that violence and intimidation could keep many away from the polls, including two opposition candidates who said police had barricaded them inside their homes.

"Vote tomorrow. Don't let them intimidate you".

This time, more than 104 million people are eligible to vote. Final results are expected to be clear early on Monday.

Hasina did not immediately respond to the accusations but said in the run-up to the vote that it would be free and fair.

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.

The 71-year-old Hasina has called for voters to back her to further bolster the economy which has shown impressive growth during her decade in power.

At least 10 candidates - mostly BNP nominees - announced to stay off the polls alleging that their agents were ousted from polling centres by the ruling party workers.

Hasina's party has denied the charges. "Long live Bangladesh", Hasina told the reporters after casting her ballot at the Dhaka City College on Sunday.

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Over the same period, annual sales of its economic mainstay, the garment industry, almost tripled, with garment exports worth $30.6 billion in 2017/18, making up 83.5 percent of total exports. At least nine people have been killed in campaign-related skirmishes, the party said. "By providing refuge to some 750,000 Rohingya Muslims driven out of Myanmar, Bangladesh has carved out an worldwide profile as a responsible and compassionate Muslim-majority nation that helps stabilize a volatile region".

Hasina's son Sajeeb Wazed, who is seen as her possible successor, told Reuters on Saturday his mother believed that being "branded authoritarian by the western media now is a badge of honour".

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