Bangladesh’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has been re-elected for a fifth term amidst a contentious election boycotted by major opposition parties.
The Election Commission spokesman announced that the Awami League, led by Hasina, had secured over 50 per cent of the parliamentary seats, with vote counting still in progress. Despite overseeing significant economic growth, Hasina’s government has faced accusations of human rights violations and suppressing opposition voices. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and several other groups boycotted the election, labelling it a “sham election” and calling for a general strike.
Hasina urged citizens to participate in the democratic process, although reports indicated a low turnout of about 40 per cent. She defended her government’s actions by labelling the BNP as a “terrorist organization” committed to preserving democracy in Bangladesh.
Election Day Developments and Human Rights Concerns
Media sources, including Somoy TV, reported that Hasina’s party won a substantial majority, with cricket team captain Shakib Al Hasan winning his seat for the Awami League by a landslide. On election day, police in Chittagong dispersed an opposition protest using shotguns and tear gas, though officials claimed the voting process was largely peaceful.
Human rights organizations, however, expressed concerns about the fairness of the polls and the potential for further government crackdowns on dissent. Bangladesh’s political landscape has historically been marked by the rivalry between Hasina and Khaleda Zia, with recent elections marred by allegations of vote-rigging and irregularities.
Economic Challenges and Political Future
Despite Hasina’s victory, her government faces economic challenges, including high food prices and power shortages that have dissatisfied many citizens. Bangladesh’s political landscape remains uncertain, especially given Khaleda Zia’s health concerns and the ongoing legal troubles of her son, BNP head Rahman. The government continues to deny allegations of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.