United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday urged all stakeholders in Bangladesh to ensure that the upcoming general elections are held in an environment free of violence and intimidation. The 11th general elections will be held on December 30.
“All Bangladeshi citizens, including minorities and women, must feel safe and confident in exercising their right to vote,” the secretary-general’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement. “Civil society and electoral observers should be fully supported to play their role in the process.”
Guterres reiterated the continued commitment of the UN to support a peaceful and democratic Bangladesh. He called on “all stakeholders to ensure an environment free of violence, intimidation and coercion before, during and after the elections, so as to enable a peaceful, credible and inclusive poll”.
At least six people have been killed and hundreds injured in election-related violence since December 10, when campaigning began, PTI reported. The ruling Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party have blamed each other for the attacks.
The opposition parties claim that the police have tried to create a “climate of fear” ahead of the elections by arresting over 10,500 of their activists. However, security forces said that no one has been arrested without a specific charge and a warrant.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Thursday accused the ruling party of ruining the election atmosphere with its violent actions, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
“It is unfortunate that these criminals have carried out these attacks with the support of several police and administration officials,” said Alamgir. “The Awami League is worsening the election atmosphere to intimidate voters into not visiting the polling booth on voting day.”