The ruling Awami League took the lead over main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the fourth phase of Bangladesh's local government body election that witnessed stray violence, claiming four lives.
According to unofficial results of the staggered 'upazila' or sub-district council elections, Awami League candidates won chairmanship of 171 sub-districts while BNP won in 144, as the Election Commission (EC) wrapped up the fourth phase in 91 upazilas in 43 districts late yesterday.
Candidates backed by BNP's crucial ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami won chairmanship in 32 in the four phases while contenders supported by the ruling Awami League's partner Jatiya Party had only three posts. The EC said "violence and irregularities" forced it to suspend voting at 32 centres in 11 sub-districts but most newspapers reported stuffing of ballot boxes, capture of polling stations, and suspension and boycott during the polls.
Violence claimed four lives in suburban Munshiganj, south-western Jhalakathi and central Comilla and Brahmanbaria.
According to media reports, two persons were killed during clashes between rival activists while in Comilla and Brahmanbaria, two others were killed as police fired gunshots to tame the violence. Acting Chief Election Commissioner Abdul Mobarrak said candidates' desperate attempts to secure victory led to violence in some places, but it was largely peaceful in most areas. "Barring stray incidents of violence, the voting was fair and peaceful. We are satisfied with the voting atmosphere," he told newsmen.
With the latest round, polls at 385 of 487 sub-districts are over and voting will be completed in the first week of May with two more rounds of polling.