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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wins Fourth Term in Controversial Bangladesh Election

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won a fourth consecutive term in Bangladesh’s parliamentary election. Her party, the Awami League, secured a majority amidst a campaign marked by violence and an opposition boycott.

Election Results Indicate Dominant Win

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While the Election Commission delayed the final results, the media reported that the Awami League won 224 of 299 seats. Independent candidates took 62 seats, the Jatiya Party 11, and the Kallyan Party 1.

Low Voter Turnout Amidst Pre-Election Violence

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The election, marred by at least 18 arson attacks, saw a turnout of around 40%. Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal announced this figure after the polls closed.

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Main Opposition Party Rejects Election Outcome

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The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by former premier Khaleda Zia, refused to accept the election result. They accused Hasina of conducting a one-sided election and stifling dissent.

Election Violence and Security Concerns

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Before the election, a passenger train was attacked, leading to four deaths. Detectives arrested seven BNP members in connection with the incident, but the party denied any involvement.

Political Rivalry Defines Election

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The long-standing rivalry between Hasina’s Awami League and Zia’s BNP has polarized Bangladesh’s politics. Zia’s house arrest on corruption charges, which her supporters call politically motivated, adds to the tension.

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Allegations of Vote-Rigging and Election Boycotts

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This election follows a pattern of allegations of vote-rigging and opposition boycotts in past elections under Hasina, which the authorities have consistently denied. However, the government rejected the BNP’s demand for a neutral caretaker government to oversee the election. Critics questioned the fairness of the election process.

International Perspective on Election Outcome

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Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert, predicted the Awami League’s inevitable win. He expressed concerns about the state of democracy in Bangladesh post-election.

Crackdown on Opposition Members

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The BNP claimed around 20,000 of its members were jailed on false charges before the election. The government disputed these numbers, suggesting a lower figure.

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BNP’s Strategic Boycott

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BNP leader Abdul Moyeen Khan stated their boycott was against a “fake and one-sided election.” He and other members went into hiding to avoid arrests and continue their opposition.

Hasina’s Economic and Diplomatic Achievements

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Supporters lauded Hasina for transforming Bangladesh’s economy and boosting the garment sector. Her role in maintaining stability and diplomatic relations was also highlighted.

Hasina’s Governance Faces Criticism

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Critics accused Hasina of moving towards a one-party state, suppressing freedom of speech, and limiting civil liberties. The economic challenges and labor unrest were also pointed out.

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Commitment to Democracy

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After voting, Hasina dismissed concerns over the election’s legitimacy, emphasizing her accountability to the people. She stated her dedication to ensuring the continuation of democracy in Bangladesh.

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