Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won the general elections on Sunday to secure a fourth consecutive term, PTI reported.

The Awami League won 222 out of the 300 elected seats in Parliament.

Independent candidates won 63 seats in the elections marked by a low voter turnout of 40%, according to Al Jazeera.

Nearly 11.96 crore Bangladeshis were registered to vote on Sunday in over 42,000 polling stations during the twelfth general elections.

Hasina, 76, was re-elected to Parliament from the Gopalganj-3 constituency for the eighth time after bagging 2.49 lakh votes. She has held the Gopalganj-3 seat since 1986. Her nearest rival, M Nizam Uddin Lashkar from the Bangladesh Supreme Party, won only 469 votes.

Opposition boycotts election

With the main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party boycotting the elections, the Awami League did not face any significant competition in the seats it contested. The party chose to not field candidates in some constituencies to avoid Parliament being called a one-party institution, reported AFP.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, boycotted the elections as it claimed that no election under Hasina’s government would be fair and credible.

It also called upon voters to shun the election to mark the beginning of an end of what it calls a “fascist government”. The party was observing a 48-hour nationwide general strike, which began at 6 am on Saturday.

However, after the result on late Sunday, the Opposition party said that it would intensify its anti-government movement through a peaceful public engagement programme from Tuesday.

It called the elections “fake” and stated that the low voter turnout was evidence that their boycott movement had been successful, reported the Dhaka Tribune.

“BNP is struggling to bring back the democratic rights of people through peaceful movement involving people,” Abdul Moyeen Khan, the party’s standing committee member, was quoted as saying. “Until this right is realized, the BNP will continue the systematic struggle on the streets.”

Meanwhile, Awami League general-secretary Obaidul Quader claimed that the voters had rejected the Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s boycott of the election.

“I sincerely thank those who braved the fear of vandalism, arson, and terrorism to participate in the 12th national parliamentary elections,” said Quader.

Violence mars polling

Several incidents of violence were reported ahead of the polls. At least 14 polling stations and two schools were set on fire between Friday evening and Saturday.

Authorities had deployed armed forces to maintain law and order during the elections.

Despite the security arrangements, unidentified persons set ablaze the Sheikh Sundar Masterpara Primary School, which was a polling centre, at around 10 pm on Saturday.

Earlier, the Dhalaipar Government Primary School centre in Chunarughat Upazila was set on fire. Five people were arrested for torching a polling centre in Mymensingh.

At least five schools, which were supposed to be used as polling centres, were set afire in Feni and Rajshahi in separate incidents from Thursday night to Friday morning, according to ANI.

On Friday, at least four people died after a passenger train caught fire. The police suspected the incident to be an arson attack.

India a ‘great friend’: PM

After her win, Hasina called India a “great friend” of Bangladesh, adding that the two countries have resolved problems between them bilaterally, reported PTI.

“They have supported us in 1971 and also in 1975,” she said. “They gave shelter to me and my sister and my other family members.”

Hasina was referring to a period of six years that she spent in exile in India after her family members were murdered. This was after a military coup in Bangladesh in 1975.

“We consider India as our next-door neighbour,” Hasina said. “We had many problems, but we resolved it bilaterally. So, I really appreciate that we have a wonderful relationship with India. I have a good relationship with every country because that is our motto.”

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