Voting Carried Out in Relative Peace
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ Election officials reported a strong turnout Thursday in elections for local council chairmen in 252 rural subdistricts. One person was reported killed and about 50 injured in scattered violence.
The political opposition, most of whose leaders are under house arrest or in hiding, called for a boycott of the election. President Hussain Ershad barred political parties from taking part in the elections.
Ershad, a general who came to power in a bloodless coup three years ago, had declared candidacies open to anyone who chose to run. About 200 people from two opposition parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, ran as individiuals.
Political observers here said the opposition call for an election boycott and general strike failed because so many individuals from the two parties entered the race.
Elections in 206 of the remaining 208 subdistricts are scheduled for next Monday. Two subdistricts had candidates who were unopposed.
Ershad postponed the rural polls last year under strong opposition pressure. He rescheduled them after a March 21 referendum that gave him a 94 percent confidence vote.
The opposition claimed the rural elections would give Ershad a civilian power base and block an early return to democracy.