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Civic poll blow to Hasina

- Khaleda party sweeps mayoral elections

Dhaka, June 18 (PTI): Bangladesh’s main Opposition party has swept crucial mayoral polls in four major cities ahead of the general elections in a major debacle for the ruling Awami League

Candidates belonging to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia defeated candidates from Premier Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League with a big margin in all the four cities of northwestern Rajshahi, southwestern Khulna and Barisal and northeastern Sylhet.

The Election Commission officially declared the BNP candidates winners after the voting on June 16. The paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) troops and the police enforced a strict vigil amid fears of violence.

In Rajshahi City Corporation, BNP’s Mosaddek Hossain Bulbul won by 47,332 votes against his Awami rival A.H.M. Khairuzzaman Liton who was elected mayor in 2008.

In Khulna City Corporation, the BNP’s Moniruzzaman Mony beat the Awami-backed Talukder Abdul Khaleque by 60,671 votes.

In both Barisal and Sylhet, BNP-backed mayoral candidates defeated their rivals by 17,010 votes and 35,157 votes respectively.

Under the law, local body elections, including the ones in city corporations, are non-party elections but major political parties fielded their candidates as proxies.

The Samakal newspaper said the voters apparently gave a verdict for a political change ahead of the elections which must be held within 90 days of the end of the current parliament’s term late this year. BNP chief Khaleda Zia called for muted celebrations. Reacting to the results, Zia said it was a befitting response of the people to the “government failures and autocratic rule”.

BNP acting secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters that the city poll results vindicated their contention that people were looking for change. “The people support our demand for a caretaker administration during the general elections. This is the main issue of our campaign and the poll results show people have responded,” Fakhrul said.

 
 
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