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Bangladesh elections marred by deadly clashes | Bangladesh News

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Dhaka, Bangladesh – Vote counting was under way on Sunday after Bangladeshis cast their ballots in general elections marred by deadly violence and accusations of irregularities.

At least 17 people were killed in election-related violence in various parts of the South Asian country, a police spokesperson said. But the capital, Dhaka remained relatively calm. 

The Daily Star, the leading English-language newspaper, said the deaths occurred mostly because of clashes between supporters of the ruling Awami League and the opposition Jatiya Oikya Front. 

Two people were killed during attacks in south-eastern Chittagong and western Rajshahi, the paper reported. One man who tried to steal a ballot box was shot dead by the police in central Cumilla, while another was killed in a fight in the same district, the paper said.

One death was reported in each of the following districts; Dinajpur, Rangamati, Cox’s Bazar, Bogura, Gazipur, and Sylhet.

The Daily Star said a member of a law enforcement agency was killed in south-eastern Noakhali.

Mobile internet was shut down and more than 600,000 security personnel were deployed across the country in a bid to check violence following a bloody campaign. But fears of violence kept voters away from the polling stations, according to local media. 

Allegations of rigging

About 104 million people were registered to vote in the country’s 11th general election. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina‘s Awami League hopes to win the vote on the back of rapid economic development during her 10-year rule. 

The opposition Jatiya Oikya Front has accused Hasina’s Awami League of vote rigging. 

“We are getting disturbing reports outside Dhaka that overnight votes have been cast illegally,” said Kamal Hossain, who leads the alliance. 

More than 40 opposition candidates pulled out of the election after polls opened, citing vote rigging and ballot stuffing, according to the Daily Star. 

Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal, the joint general-secretary of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP), the main party in the opposition alliance, called the election a “mockery”. 

But Mahbubul Alam Hanif, joint general-secretary of the ruling party, said he was satisfied with Sunday’s vote. 

“We are happy with the way the vote turned out. I believe Awami League will gain an absolute victory,” he said. 

The elections commission, which has yet to announce the voter turnout rate, said it would investigate allegations of vote rigging. 

“Allegations are coming from across the country and those are under investigation,” SM Asaduzzaman, the spokesman of the elections commission said.

“If we get any confirmation from our own channels then measures will be taken as per rules.” 

Abdul Malik, secretary at the Ministry of Information, said the election was held “peacefully and successfully”.

He added: “Results will be announced in collaboration with the election commission.”

The Awami League needs 151 seats in the 300-seat parliament to form a government. If Hasina’s party wins, she will be taking office for a record fourth time.

The opposition claimed thousands of its activists were arrested in the lead up to the polls.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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