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Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina To Seek Re-Election On December 23

Critics have decried Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian rule. (Reuters)

Dhaka: 

Bangladesh’s Chief Election Commissioner said on Thursday that the South Asian nation would hold a general election on Dec. 23, and vowed that the Election Commission would ensure a free and fair election.

K.M. Nurul Huda, the head of the Election Commission, said he hoped all parties will participate in the election, in which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is seeking to get re-elected.

“A favourable situation prevails in the country to hold a free and fair election,” Huda said during a nationwide address aired by state-run television and radio stations, adding almost all preparations for an election were already complete.

While Hasina’s government has won widespread global plaudits for letting in hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar, its critics have decried Hasina’s increasingly authoritarian rule, the government’s handling of student protests this year and its crackdown on free speech.

Huda said there would be 40,000 voting centres across the nation, and more than 600,000 law enforcement personnel would be deployed to ensure a free and fair election.

Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party on Wednesday rejected an opposition party’s demand for a caretaker government ahead of the election. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) says that a caretaker government is essential for free and fair polls, but the ruling party says the demand is unconstitutional.

“I urge political parties to participate in the election to make it meaningful,” said Huda, adding that if parties have any differences of opinion they should resolve these via talks, but not boycott the elections.

It is still not immediately clear whether the BNP plans to contest the elections. BNP boycotted the last election in 2014 that was marred by deadly violence and shunned by international observers as flawed.

Following Huda’s announcement, BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told Reuters that his party and its allies were still deliberating whether to participate. He said the BNP had asked the commission to defer the vote, but that its wishes had not been met.

“There is no reflection of public wishes and expectations in the schedule and it is moving toward a unilateral election,” he said.

The BNP, which is in disarray following the jailing of its chief, former prime minister Khaleda Zia, on corruption charges, had also pressed for a caretaker government at the 2014 election and boycotted it after the demand was not met.

Hasina and Khaleda, who between them have ruled Bangladesh for decades, are bitter rivals and the BNP says its leader has been jailed on trumped-up charges to keep her out of politics.

Separately, certain civil society groups and activists have also criticised the country’s new Digital Security Act, and a new Broadcast law that is under consideration, warning these regulations would erode free speech in the country ahead of the election.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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Kim Kardashian, Kanye West Donate $500,000

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and their three children were evacuated in California wildfire.

Washington: 

Kim Kardashian and her rapper husband Kanye West are doing their bit to help California rebuild, as the state grapples with the most destructive wildfire to date.

Kim Kardashian, who recently appeared on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’, announced two donations of USD 200,000 each- one going to the Wildfire Relief Fund and the other to the California Fire Foundation.

The 38-year-old also expressed gratitude to the firefighters who saved their homes. “We’re so grateful to them. Honestly, we couldn’t do it without them,” she said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

The reality TV star also donated USD 100,000 to a firefighter who lost his house in the Woolsey fire while helping to save other homes. “We obviously have all the firefighters that have helped, but to know that you lost your home, Kanye, Yeezy and Adidas wanted to donate to you guys $100,000 so that you guys can begin to pick up the pieces,” she explained.

Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and their three children were among thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes after California was hit with the deadliest wildfire in its history. The blaze had moved towards Malibu and the Pacific Ocean, prompting evacuations in Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Malibu and other neighbouring regions.







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Sri Lanka’s Largest Mass Grave Discovered With 230 Skeletons In Mannar Town

Apart from human remains, porcelain, ceramic and metal objects were also found. (Representative)

Colombo: 

Over 230 skeletons have been found in a mass grave discovered earlier this year in Sri Lanka’s Mannar town that has turned out to be the country’s biggest such site.

A court has ordered detailed excavations at the site – a former co-operative depot near the main bus terminus – after human remains were found by workers digging foundations for a new building in August, reports the BBC.

It is still not clear who the victims were or how they died.

“We have excavated more than 230 skeletons so far,” professor Raj Somadeva, a forensic archaeologist from the University of Kelaniya near Colombo who is leading the team at the site, told the BBC today.

“According to my experience this is the largest mass grave ever excavated,” he added.

He said apart from human remains, archaeologists also found porcelain, ceramic and metal objects, in addition to some jewellery worn by the victims.

“The bones are scattered and (it’s) very difficult to trace the stature of the bodies,” Mr Somadeva said, adding “some bones were missing… It’s chaotic.”

The town of Mannar is dominated by ethnic minority Tamils and community leaders say hundreds of people from the region went missing during the decades-long conflict between Sri Lankan security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels.

While Mannar remained mostly under army control during the civil war, Tamil Tiger rebels dominated its surrounding areas and many other parts of the district.

A number of mass graves have been unearthed in Sri Lanka’s former war zone since the conflict ended.

The remains of 96 people were discovered in 2014 at a site in another part of Mannar – adjacent to Thiruketheeswaram, a prominent Hindu temple.







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South Korean Pastor Jaerock Lee Raped Followers, Said Was Carrying Out God’s Order

Accusations that Jaerock Lee was abusing his power to have sex with women have circulated 20 years (AFP)

TOKYO: 

The controversial leader of a South Korean megachurch, Jaerock Lee, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday for raping eight female followers, after telling them he was carrying out “an order from God.”

Lee is the head of the Manmin Central Church, which claims to have 133,000 followers and 10,000 branch and associate churches around the world.

Lee has long been a controversial figure: he was ejected from the Christian Council of Korea in 1999 for his “heretical” beliefs and was branded a “cult leader” by the Korean Ministry Association after claiming he was sinless and exempt from dying.

“The victims who attended the church since childhood believed that obeying Lee as a god-like figure is the path to heaven,” the court said in its verdict. “Apparently the victims were psychologically positioned to be powerless to disobey Lee, and Lee took advantage of their status to commit the crime.”

The court said Lee even denied “objective facts” during the investigation and had shown no regret in the courtroom. It said Lee, 75, was around 50 years older than his victims.

“The victims believed him to be a divine being who wields divine power,” the court said. “They would have accepted Lee’s behavior as a divine act rather than a sexual one, and gave up questioning him thinking that it would constitute a sin.”

Accusations that Lee was abusing his power to have sex with female followers have circulated for two decades. In 1999, around 300 of his supporters stormed a Korean television station after it broadcast a critical documentary about Lee’s claims he could cure illness: his sect had previously obtained a court order preventing the Munhwa Broadcasting Corp. from screening a story about Lee’s sex life.

Lee was also invited to preach all over the world, with his church claiming he performed miraculous acts of healing.

“At each overseas crusade, countless have received God’s healing of such incurable and terminal diseases as AIDS, cancer, and the like on the spot when Rev. Dr. Lee prayed not by placing his hand on each of the sick but merely for all from the pulpit,” the Manmin church said on its website.

In August, South Korean cult leader Shin Ok-ju was arrested on her return to Seoul from Fiji, amid accusations she had stranded hundreds of followers there for years after predicting famine would strike the Korean Peninsula and subjected them to violent rituals. A video later emerged of her beating followers and ordering them to strike each other.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)







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