The Latest: Withdrawals, violence mar Bangladesh vote

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — The Latest on parliamentary elections in Bangladesh (all times local):

2:12 a.m.

A general election marred by violence in Bangladesh is drawing criticism of a vote seen as a referendum on what the opposition calls Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

Opposition alliance leader Kamal Hossain is calling Sunday’s vote “farcical,” and vows rejection of results.

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Hossain said a few hours after voting ended that about 100 candidates from the opposition have withdrawn from the race and the opposition alliance would meet Monday to decide the next course.

More than a dozen people have been killed in election-related violence.

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8:45 p.m.

Bangladesh opposition alliance leader Kamal Hossain has called the country’s general election “farcical,” and says any outcome will be rejected.

Voters went to the polls Sunday to decide whether to give Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a third consecutive term, in an election seen as a referendum on what critics call Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

The election campaign was marred by allegations from the opposition of arrests and jailing of thousands of opponents of Hasina.

Hossain said a few hours after voting ended Sunday that about 100 candidates from the opposition withdrew from the race during the day. He said they would hold a meeting Monday to decide their next course.

He told reporters at a media briefing telecast live that the opposition calls on “the Election Commission to declare this election void and demand a fresh election under a nonpartisan government.”

The opposition fielded candidates for all 299 parliamentary seats that were contested.

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6:55 p.m.

More than a dozen people are reported to have been killed in election-related violence in Bangladesh.

People across the country went to the polls on Sunday to decide whether to give Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a third consecutive term, in an election seen as a referendum on what critics call Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

The election campaign was marred by allegations from the opposition of arrests and jailing of thousands of opponents of Hasina, who promoted her development agenda to woo voters.

Bangladesh’s leading English-language newspaper, the Daily Star, said 16 people were killed in 13 districts in election-related violence on Sunday.

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4:10 p.m.

Polling stations have closed in Bangladesh’s general election.

Officials say voting ended at 4 p.m. Sunday in 299 out of the 300 parliamentary seats. They say they’ll continue to allow those who were waiting in line to cast their ballots.

The election in one constituency was postponed after a candidate died of natural causes.

The election is seen as a referendum on what critics call Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

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3:05 p.m.

News reports in Bangladesh say there have been deadly clashes related to the country’s general election.

Local media including the country’s leading Bengali-language daily, Prothom Alo, say up to 10 people were killed in clashes between rival partisans and police in six districts across the country as voting took place Sunday. Police officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press received more than 50 calls from people across the country who identified themselves as opposition supporters complaining of intimidation and threats, and being forced to vote in front of ruling party men inside polling booths. The AP could not independently verify the complaints.

The election is seen as a referendum on what critics call Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

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8:20 a.m.

Voting has started in Bangladesh’s contentious parliamentary elections.

The polls Sunday in the South Asian nation are seen as a referendum on what critics call 71-year-old Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies.

Hasina’s main rival is former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who’s in prison for corruption.

In Zia’s absence, the opposition is led by Kamal Hossain, an 82-year-old Oxford-educated lawyer and former member of Hasina’s Awami League party.

The election campaign has been marred by allegations from the opposition of arrests and jailing of thousands of Hasina opponents.

While rights groups have sounded the alarms about the erosion of Bangladesh’s democracy, Hasina has promoted a different narrative, highlighting an ambitious economic agenda that has propelled Bangladesh past larger neighbors Pakistan and India by some development measures.

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