Bangladesh newspapers express dissatisfaction on polling process but sound note of hope for future with Sheikh Hasina at helm

The op-ed sections in Bangladesh newspapers and news websites expressed mixed feelings towards the polling process on Monday expressing dissatisfactions at the polls, but at the same time remaining hopeful of a better future under Sheikh Hasina

FP Staff December 31, 2018 18:09:50 IST
Bangladesh newspapers express dissatisfaction on polling process but sound note of hope for future with Sheikh Hasina at helm

The ruling Awami League-led alliance swept the general elections in Bangladesh, securing a third straight term for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina winning 288 seats in the 300-member Parliament.  The Opposition Jatiya Oikya Front — National Unity Front (NUF) — secured seven seats with over 15 percent of the votes, while others won three seats.

The election outcome has been rejected by the Opposition grouping which has termed it "farcical". The op-ed sections in Bangladesh newspapers and news websites expressed mixed feelings towards the polling process on Monday. While some listed the irregularities witnessed during the polling day, expressing disappointment for the election's failure to bring a change in the government or attitude of the voters, several seemed hopeful of a better future for Bangladesh under Awami League-led grand alliance.

Bangladesh newspapers express dissatisfaction on polling process but sound note of hope for future with Sheikh Hasina at helm

File image of Bangladesh's prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Reuters

The Dhaka edition of the Financial Express wrote about how the streets of Dhaka were deserted on Sunday when Bangladesh went to polls. The newspaper said that under the enthusiasm for the polls and festivities (of a new year) lay an uneasiness among the people that the widespread violence that vitiated the pre-polls atmosphere may return on voting day.

It said that "the arrests made far outnumber similar anticipatory detentions of any time in the past" creating confusion and fear on people's minds. "...It has not gone well with the common people who want peace and a congenial atmosphere for voting," the newspaper said.

The Dhaka Tribue, one of the leading English dailies in Bangladesh, however, expressed dissatisfaction in how the election results failed to bring about the change that the exercise promised while highlighting how the Jatiya Oikya Front has rejected the polls, claiming "vote dacoity" and demanded fresh polls.

"We had hoped for an election that — even if imperfect — would be accepted by all parties, and give us enough of a basis to both get on with the business of the state and also to hope that politics could start to return to normal," the newspaper said.

"More than anything else, we had hoped that this election could see the rebirth of something approaching national unity and commonality of purpose...However, it is clear now that that hope is a distant dream, and that we remain as divided as ever," the newspaper added.

Bangla newspaper Prothomalo also spoke about the irregularities that were seen in polling booths across the country, be it Awami League agents present inside polling booths to the missing observers of the Bangladesh National Party candidates.

Meanwhile, The Daily Star, listed the several irregularities right from ballot stuffing, closing of polling booths before polling was supposed to end, to filled ballot boxes being brought to polling booths. However, it seemed positive about the future of Bangladesh under the third term of Sheikh Hasina. The Daily Star says that since the incumbent regime has received "an unprecedented mandate with this landslide win, the pressure to deliver will be that much high".

However, while the Awami League's performance in achieving the 21-point pledge made in the election manifesto will be keenly watched, the newspaper says that it is more interesting in seeing the government empowering institutions like the National Human Rights Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, mass media and the judiciary as well as ensuring good governance.

The report also highlights the questionable record of the Awami League on the front of human rights and basic freedoms.

The question that everybody seems to be asking is: Will Sheikh Hasina redeem herself in her third consecutive term?

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