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Clash of parties may undermine Bangladesh election

The impasse between the Bangladesh's two dominant parties may undermine the legitimacy of the country's general and is fueling worries of economic stagnation and further violence in the impoverished South Asian nation of 160 million.

Either Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina or BNP chief Begum Khaleda Zia has been prime minister for all but two of the past 22 years and the two are bitter rivals.

Bangladeshi election officials and policemen, in uniform, wait to takes ballot boxes. Credit: AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh

"These elections are in no way going to help resolve the stalemate we have seen in the past few months," said Iftekhar Zaman, executive director of global anti-corruption body Transparency International in Bangladesh.

"The parliament which will emerge will be one without an opposition and so there will be a very big legitimacy crisis."Turnout was also likely to be blighted by fears of violence.

More than 120 polling places have been set ablaze since Friday, an election commission official said.

Bangladesh holds parliamentary election

Bangladesh holds its parliamentary election later in a contest boycotted by the main opposition, marred by violence that has killed more than 100 people and shunned by international observers.

A Bangladeshi policeman sits guard inside a truck carrying ballot boxes. Credit: AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh

Polls were due to open at 8am (2am GMT) and close at 4pm, although with fewer than half of the 300 parliamentary seats being contested, the ruling Awami League was poised to sweep to victory.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) urged voters to stay away from the "farcical" election.

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Giant fire destroys another garment factory in Dhaka

A huge fire has destroyed another Bangladesh garment factory supplying key Western brands in the Gazipur district of Dhaka, authorities said. There were no initial reports of casualties.

Smoke rises from a fire burning at a Standard Group garment factory in Gazipur
Smoke rises from a fire burning at a Standard Group garment factory in Gazipur Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

As many as 18,000 people worked at the factory, which is among the ten biggest in the country, but all employees had reportedly left by the time the fire broke out in the early hours of this morning.

Head of firefighting operations, Mahbubur Rahman, said he believed the fire had been started by some of the workers.

The head of firefighters said he believed it may have been arson
The head of firefighters said he believed it may have been arson Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Biraj

Read: The wait for help goes on six months after the Bangladesh factory collapse

£4.8m from UK to improve Bangladesh work conditions

New UK support of £4.8 million will go towards the International Labour Organisation's ‘Improving the Working Conditions in the Ready Made Garment sector in Bangladesh’ programme to improve fire safety and protect workers.

More than a 1,130 people were killed when Rana Plaza collapsed in Bangladesh Credit: Reuters

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said:

“April’s factory collapse took a dreadful toll on people in Bangladesh and galvanised much-needed action on safety. Six months on, this UK action will help the Government of Bangladesh, employers and manufacturers make improvements on safety and conditions.

“But there is still a long way to go. Everyone needs to continue to work together to maintain momentum and prevent future tragedies.”

Read: Primark urges factory pay-outs

Primark: Rana Plaza victims spread all over Bangladesh

Primark has shown ITV News details of its strategy to track down the 550 workers who were employed by its subcontractor in the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh.

The challenge is made harder by the fact that many of the workers and their dependants have left Dhaka and are spread the "length and breadth of Bangladesh," senior executive Paul Lister said.

Read: Primark says it's time rivals also pay Bangladesh factory victims

Primark's Paul Lister shows Laura Kuenssberg a map showing where the 550 workers are living now
Primark's Paul Lister shows Laura Kuenssberg a map showing where the 550 workers are living now Credit: ITV News

Primark, working with the University of Dhaka, has devised a scheme whereby students will travel out to each of the victims in order to assess their level of need.

This data will be entered into touch tablets, which contain software to calculate the level of compensation they can expect.

Primark's Paul Lister demonstrates how one of the touch tablets used to calculate compensation works
Primark's Paul Lister demonstrates how one of the touch tablets used to calculate compensation works Credit: ITV News

Read: What happens next in Bangladesh is partly up to us

Luxury retailers 'sell clothes from Bangladesh factories'

High-end retailers are sourcing garments from the same factories in Bangladesh as Primark but are charging a higher price, one of the company's senior executives, told ITV News.

Paul Lister said: "If you look at who is sourcing out of Bangladesh, you'll see that clearly Primark sources out of Bangladesh, but actually next door to Primark in any given factory could be a Bond Street retailer, sourcing exactly the same sort of garment, sourcing a T-shirt.

"So ours at Primark would be £5 on our shelf, it could be £60 for the Bond Street retailer, in the same factory, with the same conditions, the same workforce, the same pay, as the £5 Primark T-shirt."

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