Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina wins fourth term in disputed election

Sheikh Hasina
  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured a fourth consecutive term as her party Awami League won two-thirds of the seats in the parliamentary elections held on Sunday.
  • The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies boycotted the elections, calling them ‘fake’ and accusing the government of rigging and intimidation.
  • The elections were marred by sporadic incidents of violence, arson, and vandalism, resulting in a low turnout of around 40 percent.
  • Hasina defended the elections as free and fair, and thanked India for its support during the 1971 liberation war and after the 1975 military coup.

Dhaka: According to the Election Commission, the ruling Awami League and its allies won 200 seats out of the 300-member Parliament, while the opposition BNP and its allies won only seven seats. The remaining seats went to independent candidates and other parties. The counting of votes is still going on in some constituencies.

Hasina, who has been in power since 2009, won her fourth consecutive term and fifth overall as Prime Minister. She won the Gopalganj-3 seat with 2,49,965 votes, while her nearest rival M Nizam Uddin Lashkar of Bangladesh Supreme Party got only 469 votes.

Awami League general secretary Obaidul Qadir claimed that people have rejected the election boycott of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami by voting. “I thank those who braved the fear of vandalism, arson, and terrorism to vote in the 12th national parliamentary elections,” Qadir said.

Jatiya Party President G. M. Qadir, who is also the leader of the opposition in the outgoing Parliament, won the Rangpur-3 seat. He said he will decide whether to join the government or remain in the opposition after consulting his party.

Election boycott

The BNP, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who is currently in jail on corruption charges, boycotted the elections, alleging that they were not free and fair. The party accused the government of using the state machinery, the police, and the army to intimidate, harass, and arrest its supporters and candidates. The party also claimed that many of its polling agents were barred from entering the polling stations and that the ballot boxes were stuffed with fake votes.

The BNP had also boycotted the 2014 elections, which resulted in a walkover for the Awami League. The party contested the 2018 elections but failed to win any significant seats. Along with the BNP, 15 other political parties also boycotted the elections this time.

BNP leaders said that the low turnout in the elections, which was around 40 percent according to the Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Habibul Awal, showed that their boycott movement was successful. They said that they will intensify their anti-government agitation through peaceful public participation programs from Tuesday. They also called for a 48-hour nationwide general strike, which started at 6 am on Saturday and will end at 6 am on Monday.

The party had urged the voters to stay away from the election to mark it as the beginning of the end of the “fascist government” of Hasina.

Election violence

Despite the heavy deployment of security forces, the elections were marred by sporadic incidents of violence, arson and vandalism across the country. Officials and media reported that at least 18 people were killed and dozens injured in clashes between rival supporters, attacks on polling stations, and police firing. At least 10 polling stations were set on fire by unidentified miscreants since late Friday night.

The Election Commission said that apart from some isolated incidents of violence, polling was largely peaceful in 299 constituencies out of 300. Voting for one seat will be conducted later due to the death of a candidate.

Hasina’s reaction

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cast her vote at the Dhaka City College polling station soon after the polling began. She was accompanied by her daughter Saima Wajid. She defended the elections as democratic and legitimate and alleged that the opposition BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami alliance does not believe in democracy. She said, “People will vote as per their wish and we were able to create an atmosphere of voting. However, the BNP-Jamaat alliance carried out several incidents including arson.”

Responding to a question, Hasina told reporters that India is a “trusted friend” of Bangladesh. She said, “We are very fortunate… India is our trusted friend. During the liberation war (1971), they not only supported us but also sheltered us after 1975, when we lost our entire family – father, mother, brother, everyone (in the military coup) and only two of us (Hasina and her younger sister Rihanna) were left. So we wish the people of India all the best.”

Sheikh Hasina

She also thanked the people of Bangladesh for giving her another mandate to serve them and vowed to work for the development and prosperity of the country.

Military officers assa

The news article did not mention anything about military officers being assaulted. I am not sure what you are referring to. Could you please clarify your question?