NEARLY 60 polling stations in Bangladesh were set on fire and three people killed on the eve of today's election in which the ruling Awami League looks certain to prevail in a walkover as the main opposition party boycotts the poll.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called a 48-hour strike from yesterday morning and urged voters to stay away from the "farcical" election. Without the BNP, fewer than half of 300 parliamentary constituencies are being contested. The BNP is protesting against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's refusal to have a caretaker government oversee elections, and many of its leaders are in jail or in hiding.

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