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Landslide win for Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh poll

Election commission says former premier's party wins 229 of the parliament's 295 seats

Landslide win for  Sheikh Hasina in Bangladesh poll

Bangladesh's former premier Sheikh Hasina Wajed won the country's first election since 2001 in a landslide yesterday, crushing her bitter rival to retake power in the impoverished south Asian nation.
The election commission said Sheikh Hasina's Awami League party had won 229 of the 295 seats in parliament counted so far, giving her an overwhelming win in Monday's vote with just a handful of results still to be tallied.
"She has a clear majority to govern without any other party," commission spokesman S.M. Asaduzzaman said.
Her rival Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which won the last election in 2001 by a huge margin, garnered only 27 seats in the ballot, which ended two years of rule by an army-backed caretaker government.
"There have been a lot of irregularities," BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed said.
"Our supporters have been kept from voting, and our polling agents and officials have been barred from performing their duties."
Sheikh Hasina and Zia, known as the battling begums, ruled alternately from 1991 until the interim government was installed, and their bitter personal rivalry has been blamed for paralyzing political life in the country.
The caretaker regime made efforts to shake up the system, and went so far as to jail both women for corruption, but agreed to release them to contest the election.
Although polling was peaceful, there are concerns that the restoration of democracy will see the country slip back into the negative, confrontational politics of the past.
Newspapers hailed Sheikh Hasina's performance, with the English-language Daily Star describing the win as "stunning" proof that the country was "hungry for change."
A U.N.-funded digital electoral roll, which eliminated 12.7 million fake names, appeared to have put a lid on the widespread vote rigging seen in previous polls, observers said.
Manzoor Hasan, director of BRAC University's Institute of Governance Studies in Dhaka, said the next 48 hours would determine whether or not the BNP accepted the result.
He also warned that with such a big majority, Sheikh Hasina carried an enormous responsibility.
"This is the danger of an absolute majority with any government. The possibility that it will steamroll the opposition and do whatever the government wants to do," he said.
The election attracted a record voter turnout of 85 percent, with the figure reaching 90 percent in rural areas, the Election Commission said.
A team of south Asian poll monitors concluded that voting had been "free, fair and transparent," while EU observers also said procedures had been correctly followed.
"All Bangladeshis can take great pride in the success of these elections," the U.S. State Department said in a statement on its website.

Updated : 2021-05-08 00:58 GMT+08:00