Elections acceptable despite poor turnout: Bangladesh minister

Dhaka, Jan 5 (IANS) Bangladesh Minister of State for Law Md. Qamrul Islam said Sunday the 10th parliamentary elections, though marred by opposition boycott, low voter turnout and violence, would be “acceptable”.

The minister, after casting is vote Sunday in Dhaka-7 constituency, said the polls were going on peacefully, barring some incidents outside Dhaka, bdnews24.com reported.
“But it is peaceful in Dhaka,” he said outside the Chakbazar Shidhu Hospital polling centre.
He said the elections were necessary to continue the democratic process and reiterated his party’s position that the next elections could be held anytime in agreement with the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has now boycotted the polls.
“But it depends on BNP. They must shun Jamaat-e-Islami and stop violence before dialogue for the next elections could start,” the minister said.
Voting began at 8 a.m. Sunday amid a series of violent incidents that has killed at least eight people in various districts, including an election officer.
Explosions occurred outside two polling stations in Dhaka, injuring at least five people.
Polling was suspended at 136 centres due to attacks by anti-poll protestors.
Thin attendance was recorded till 1 p.m. at polling centres in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Munsiganj, Kushtia and Jessore.
The voting will continue till 4 p.m. at about 18,000 polling stations set in schools and other public buildings.
Mired in controversy, the parliamentary elections are being held in just 147 out of 300 seats in 59 out of 64 districts of the country. As many as 153 candidates have already been elected unopposed amid a boycott by the main opposition party and its allies.
Some 21 parties, including former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s BNP are boycotting the elections over Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s refusal to introduce a non-party interim government to oversee the elections.