Dhaka, Jan 08: Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh, won re-election for a fifth term on Sunday. This came about as a result of a boycott spearheaded by an opposition group that she called a “terrorist organization.”
Hasina’s ruling Awami League “has won more than 50 percent seats,” an Election Commission spokesman told AFP, with counting ongoing.
She has presided over breakneck economic growth in a country once beset by grinding poverty, but her government has been accused of rampant human rights abuses and a ruthless opposition crackdown.
Her party faced almost no effective rivals in the seats it contested, but it avoided fielding candidates in a few constituencies, an apparent effort to avoid the legislature being branded a one-party institution.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), whose ranks have been decimated by mass arrests, called a general strike and, along with dozens of others, refused to participate in a “sham election”.
Hasina, 76, had called for citizens to show faith in the democratic process — but election officials said initial reports suggested a meagre turnout of some 40 percent.
“The BNP is a terrorist organisation,” she told reporters after casting her vote. “I am trying my best to ensure that democracy should continue in this country.”
Media collating results from polling stations said Hasina had won more than two-thirds of seats in parliament with nearly 90 percent of results declared.
Of the 264 seats of the total 300 announced, Hasina’s Awami League had won 204 and her allied Jatiya Party nine more, according to results collated by Somoy TV, the country’s largest private news broadcaster.
Among the victors was Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh cricket team captain, who won his seat for Hasina’s party be a landslide, local officials said.