Bangladesh Government Won 95% of Voters’ Support, Regime Says

United Press International

President Hussain Mohammed Ershad’s military government won an endorsement from nearly 95% of the voters who took part in a national referendum, official reports said Friday.

About 36.5 million people, or 76% of the 48 million eligible voters, cast ballots Thursday despite a boycott called by the political opposition, the reports said. Opposition groups contended that the turnout was lower.

Violence marked the balloting in the nation of 100 million. Two people died and 18 were injured in voting-related incidents Thursday.

According to the national election commission, Ershad’s government received about 34.6 million affirmative votes, or 94.8%, while 1.9 million votes, or 5.2%, of the votes were opposed to his regime.

Foes Dispute Figures

The referendum asked voters if they wanted continued rule by Ershad’s martial-law government, which under a suspended constitution will delay elections.

An opposition 15-party alliance said in a statement that the referendum’s results did not reflect popular opinion and that the turnout was far less than reported.

It was impossible to check polling nationwide, but reporters who visited polling places in the capital said they saw few voters. At one point early Thursday, for example, only 10 people in two hours were seen casting ballots at one polling station in Dhaka.

Voting was heavier in rural areas, a semi-official newspaper said.