Bangladesh in Focus: An ANFREL biweekly Election Update (8-21 January 2024)

ANFREL had observed that from 8 January to 21 January, Bangladesh had experienced significant political turmoil and controversy surrounding the 12th Parliamentary election which was held on 7 January.

Following the conclusion of the 12th Parliamentary Election, the Chief Election Commissioner had announced that the ruling Awami League (AL) had secured a victory in 222 out of 298 seats, while independent candidates had won 62 seats.1 The Election Commission had officially disclosed a voter turnout of 41.8%, however this number has been heavily criticised due to multiple polling stations being entirely or nearly empty as a result of the opposition boycott.2

ANFREL had further observed that electoral violence had continued after the election across the country, with reports of attacks, vandalism, and clashes between supporters of winning and defeated candidates.3 These clashes, mostly between the independent and AL candidates, had resulted in multiple injuries and even deaths.4

International reactions regarding the election were mixed. Certain countries including the US and Canada had expressed their reservations regarding the election.5 However, multiple observers had characterised the election as "free, fair, and safe," which had painted a sharp contrast against the remarks made by voters and local journalists.6 Human rights groups and various CSO’s including Transparency International Bangladesh and Right To Freedom had also criticised the election and raised concerns about repression and arrests leading up to the polls, as well as the reported vote-rigging.7 ANFREL had also submitted a joint-statement, along with seven other human rights organisations, on 12 January regarding the poll-time irregularities, while also demanding a fresh election under an interim government.8 The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had also expressed concerns about the fairness of the election.9

The political landscape remained tense, with ongoing protests organised by opposition parties and alliances demanding for a fresh election under a neutral government, and accusations of internal conflicts within political parties.10 The government defended the election's integrity, while opposition parties called for the annulment of the results.11 As the situation unfolded, courts granted bail to several BNP leaders who were arrested last year ahead of the election, and the international community continued to monitor developments.12 The aftermath of the 12th Parliamentary election continued to shape the political landscape in Bangladesh, with ongoing protests and calls for a reevaluation of the electoral process.

READ THE FULL BRIEFER HERE: Bangladesh in Focus: 8-21 January 2024


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