Bangladesh’s ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won elections with a sweeping victory and is set for a third consecutive term. This is a remarkable feat in the country’s political history as no other leader in Bangladesh has been able to win a third term. The ruling coalition has bagged more than 80 per cent of votes, making it the strongest governments in South Asia.
The coalition dominated by Hasina’s Awami League won 287 of the 298 seats for which results have been declared for the 300-strong parliament, the Election Commission said. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which boycotted the last poll in 2014, won just six seats.
Hasina’s victory consolidated her decade-long rule over Bangladesh, where she is credited with improving the economy and boosting up development but has also been accused of wild human rights abuses, a clamp down on the media and suppressing dissent. She rejects such charges.
Minimum wage hike for workers in Bangladesh’s massive garments industry, the world’s second biggest after China, could be one of her first tasks after she takes office, party leaders have said.
“The whole election was completely manipulated. It should be cancelled,” 82-year-old opposition leader Kamal Hossain said at his residence in the capital, Dhaka, late on Sunday. Candidates reported witnessing ballot-stuffing and vote-rigging by ruling party activists, who also barred opposition polling agents from voting centres, Hossain said.
“We’ve had bad elections in the past but I must say that it is unprecedented how bad this particular election was. The minimum requirements of free and fair election are absent. We would meet opposition alliance members on Monday to decide their next step”, he said.
At the other end, Hasina’s son, Sajeeb Wazed, called the opposition “sore losers making false allegations”.
“Can’t say if it will be done immediately but it will be raised without a doubt,” he said days after protests demanding higher wages. The government, however, does not want to “stay stuck on the garments sector” but diversify into phone and other electronics manufacturing, he said.