Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has won a third straight term after general elections were held on Sunday, the country’s Election Commission said early on Monday. At least 17 people were killed in various parts of the country during the voting process, reported BDNews24.
According to the unofficial results, an alliance led by Hasina’s Awami League won 287 of the 298 seats. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is the main Opposition party, has called the results farcical and demanded fresh polls. Its alliance won just eight seats.
Polling in the 11th general elections was held on Sunday for 299 of the 300 parliamentary seats. Voting at three polling centres in one constituency will be held again after there were problems during the counting, said Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed, according to The Dhaka Tribune.
“We call upon the Election Commission to declare this farcical election void and demand a fresh election under a neutral government,” said Kamal Hossain, an Opposition leader. The alliance will meet on Monday to decide its next move, he said. The group alleged gross irregularities, violence and intimidation during the voting process. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party has remained out of power for 12 years.
Dozens of candidates had pulled out on the polling day, claiming rigging by the ruling party.
The Awami League won 259 seats by itself, while alliance partner Jatiya Party won 20 seats. Other constituents of the coalition won eight seats. Three seats went to independent candidates.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the results proved that his party’s decision to boycott the previous elections in 2014 was correct, reported BDNews24. “The so-called participatory election has caused long-term damage to the nation,” he said, calling the polls a “cruel joke with the nation”.
Eight of the 17 people who died were killed in scuffles between party workers. Three were shot by police, including an Opposition activist who allegedly tried to attack a polling station. A security personnel was killed by activists from the Bangladesh Nationalist party, police claimed. A candidate of the BNP was stabbed under unclear circumstances.
The main Opposition party was without its chief Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman, who is the party’s acting chief. Zia, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in a corruption case, has been barred from contesting the polls, while Rahman is reportedly in London to evade law-enforcement agencies. He was sentenced to life in prison for allegedly masterminding a grenade attack on a rally in 2004 that killed 24 Awami League leaders and activists.
Modi congratulates Hasina
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Hasina for the victory, PTI reported. He was reportedly the first foreign leader to call her. The Ministry of External Affairs said Modi was confidence that the partnership between India and Bangladesh will continue to flourish.
“The PM also reiterated the priority India attaches to Bangladesh as a neighbour, a close partner for regional development, security and cooperation, and a central pillar in India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” the ministry said in a statement. “PM Sheikh Hasina thanked Prime Minister for being the first leader to call her to convey congratulations. She also thanked India for their consistent and generous support which has benefited Bangladesh’s development, and appreciated PM’s reiteration of this commitment.”