Sheikh Hasina's Awami League Heads to Victory in Bangladesh



Bangladesh, one of the world's poorest countries, has moved a step closer to a return to democracy with a relatively peaceful parliamentary election. Officials say about 70 percent of the 81 million eligible voters went to the polls Monday. The Awami League, under former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, appears poised to form a new government based on Tuesday's early results for the 300-seat parliament. But it remains to be seen if the outcome will be accepted peacefully by the losers.

Initial Results Point to Landslide

Defying a ban on political activity in effect until Thursday, chants and cheers erupted on the streets of Dhaka for Awami League leader Hasina's motorcade.

Party officials deemed the celebration premature but just hours later, as initial results were tabulated amid projections of a landslide, it became apparent Hasina will most likely be  Bangladesh's next prime minister.

Immediately after casting her own ballot, Sheikh Hasina told reporters she hoped to be serving the country again soon. But she said that no matter the results, Bangladeshis should accept the outcome.

The former prime minister spoke of irregularities with ballot papers at some polling stations and said there have been reported attempts of vote buying by rival parties.

Rival Zia Alleges Mismanagement at Polling Stations

Hasina's long-time bitter rival, Khaleda Zia, complained about alleged mismanagement of some polling stations.

Zia, who is also a former prime minister and a member of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, says voting hours should have been extended because of the slow progression to the ballot boxes in many places.

Several incidents of violence were reported and there were some election-related arrests around the country. But the polling, according to monitors, appeared relatively trouble-free compared to many previous elections here.

EU Observers Deem Balloting 'Credible'

The voting was monitored by 200,000 observers, including hundreds of accredited foreigners. The European Union team deemed the balloting "credible."

U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty visited polling stations in the capital.

"I noticed that a few people were not able to actually climb the stairs up to the voting booths," said Moriarty. "In some instances the police and the [paramilitary] Bangladesh Rifles were helping to carry them."

The interim government put hundreds of thousands of soldiers and law enforcement officers on the streets and banned motorized vehicles in major cities to minimize potential trouble.

A History of Autocratic Rule

Since gaining independence in 1971, Bangladesh, a county of about 150 million people, has spent more than half of that time under autocratic rule.

But economist and former Bangladeshi ambassador to Indonesia Salma Khan says that does not mean her country is incapable of sustained democratic governance.

"We have had two former governments who completed their tenure so I don't think that we have a bad record,"  Khan said. "But this time I feel that it also depends to a large extent on the people. Not only the politicians who are the major factor. It is a very different generation right now. And I do feel strongly that we will have a continued democracy."

Hasina and Zia contentiously traded power during a 15-year period. Both were jailed on graft charges by the army-backed interim government, which conducted a campaign during the past two years attempting to eradicate a legacy of widespread corruption in politics and business.


This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs