Sun, Jan 04, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Two killed after Bangladesh election

AFP , DHAKA

At least two people have been killed and more than 20 injured in numerous post-election clashes between supporters of Bangladesh’s two main parties, police said yesterday.

The violence between activists of the victorious Awami League and its rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) came after an election ban on rallies was lifted on Thursday.

A BNP official died in hospital in the eastern town of Comilla after he was attacked with sticks by Awami League supporters, local police chief Nazrul Islam said.

In a separate attack, a woman was hacked to death in the western town of Shailkupa.

Five others were critically injured in the interparty clashes in Shailkupa.

The Awami League won Monday’s election by a landslide, taking 230 of the 300 seats in parliament. The BNP won just 29.

Police said that nearly 20 more people had been injured in poll-related violence in half a dozen districts.

Dozens of houses were ransacked across the country.

BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed said at least 1,000 party supporters and officials had been attacked and injured.

“Since the elections our men are being increasingly attacked by the supporters of the victorious party with knives, machetes and sticks,” he said.

There was no independent confirmation of the BNP claim.

Meanwhile, the Awami League confirmed that it would nominate leader Sheikh Hasina Wajed as prime minister.

Party General-Secretary Abdul Jalil brushed aside speculation that Sheikh Hasina, who has led the party since 1981, would step aside and appoint a fresh face to the position.

“Sheikh Hasina will be the next prime minister of the country. The party does not have any other alternative,” he said.

She is expected to be sworn in on Tuesday.

It will be Sheikh Hasina’s second term as prime minister. She held the post after her party’s narrow 1996 poll win over the BNP of arch rival Khaleda Zia.

Held under tight security, the first polls since 2001 attracted a turnout of 87 percent and saw none of the deadly unrest that forced the last scheduled vote to be canceled and the army-backed administration take control.

After alleging election fraud in the immediate wake of the results, the BNP on Thursday accepted defeat, but stood by its charge of vote rigging.

Independent observers, including a team from the EU, have declared the election free and fair.

The Awami League said it would appoint veteran party official and ex-minister Zillur Rahman to be Bangladesh’s next president, once parliament was convened.

The head of state has had little authority over day-to-day affairs since a change in the Constitution in 1991 vested most powers in the prime minister.

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