Dhaka: Bangladesh’s ruling alliance won virtually every parliamentary seat in the country’s general election, according to official results, giving Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a third straight term despite allegations of intimidation and the opposition disputing the outcome. The coalition led by Hasina’s Awami League party won 288 out of 300 seats or 96% in Sunday's polls. The opposition alliance led by prominent lawyer Kamal Hossain won only seven seats. The opposition rejected the outcome, with Hossain calling the election “farcical” and demanding a new election be held under the authority of a “nonpartisan government.” But chief election commissioner K M Nurul Huda ruled out any fresh vote, saying there were no reports of largescale irregularities.
Hasina’s main rival for decades has been former PM Khaleda Zia, the leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, whom a court deemed ineligible to run for office because she is in prison for alleged corruption. In Khaleda’s absence, opposition parties formed a coalition led by Hossain, an 82-year-old former member of Hasina’s Awami League. Hasina met political leaders and senior military and civil officials at her office. It said Indian Prime Minister Naredra Modi telephoned her and promised to continue to support Bangladesh under her leadership.
Hasina said the victory was ``nothing for her personal gain, rather it is a great responsibility toward the country and people.'' The opposition says Hasina's leadership has become increasingly authoritarian. More than a dozen people were killed in election-related violence, and the election campaign was dogged by allegations of the arrest and jailing of thousands of Hasina's opponents.
Hossain said that about 100 candidates from the alliance had withdrawn from their races during the day. He said the alliance would meet to decide its next step. The secretary general of Zia's party, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, won a seat in a twist victory. Alamgir is a fierce critic of Hasina and spearheaded the formation of the opposition alliance with Hossain at the helm. Alamgir said he was rejecting any outcome, but it was unknown after his win was declared what he would do now. In the run-up to the election, activists from both the ruling party and the opposition complained of attacks on supporters and candidates.
While rights groups have sounded alarms about an erosion of Bangladesh's democracy, Hasina has promoted a different narrative, highlighting an ambitious economic agenda that has propelled Bangladesh past larger neighbors like Pakistan and India by some development measures.