Facts about Bangladesh’s 10th parliamentary polls

Dhaka, Jan 5 (IANS) Mired in controversy and marred by violence, Bangladesh’s 10th parliamentary elections were held Sunday in just 147 out of 300 seats in 59 out of 64 districts of the country.

The following are some facts about the national polls, as reported by Xinhua.
* Bangladesh has a parliamentary system of government headed by the prime minister since 1991. The current parliament of Bangladesh contains 350 seats, including 50 seats reserved for women, which are apportioned on elected party position in parliament.
* The political party that wins the most seats in the parliamentary elections forms the new government, and the party leader usually becomes the prime minister.
* According to Bangladesh’s Election Commission, a total of 390 candidates of 12 registered political parties, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party as well as independent candidates, contested for the 147 parliament seats.
* A total of 153 candidates have already been elected unopposed amid boycott by former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its 17 allies.
* The opposition demanded the polls be held under a non-party caretaker government system which was cancelled through the 15th Amendment of the Constitution in 2011.
* Some 127 of the winners without a contest belong to the Awami League party and it needs now only 24 seats to win a majority from the remaining 147 seats.
* There were nearly 92 million eligible voters in the 10th parliament polls.
* To ensure peaceful voting, about 400,000 security personnel, including nearly tens of thousands of army troops, were deployed across the country.
* More than 18,000 polling centres were set up. The polls have almost been shunned by international observers. Only four international observers – two from India and two from Bhutan – have reportedly come to observe the polls.
* Despite the main opposition alliance’s threat to boycott the elections, Bangladesh’s poll-time cabinet was sworn in Nov 18, 2013.
* Six new ministers and two ministers of state were sworn in following Hasina’s cabinet reshuffle to pave the way for the formation of the poll-time cabinet.
* All the new ministers and state ministers were lawmakers from the constituents of the Awami League-led ruling grand alliance, including former president Hussein Muhammad Ershad’s Jatiya Party.
* Khaleda Zia’s BNP and its 17 allies have rejected Hasina’s all-party poll-time government.
* Khaleda asked the Awami League to bring back a caretaker system, or else her party would not participate in the polls, fearing an election without the caretaker government would not be free and fair.
* Bangladesh Chief Election Commissioner Rakibuddin Ahmed said the elections were “fair”.