News

Bangladesh's Sheikh Hasina Wins Landslide Election

Multimedia

The Awami League, led by former prime minister Sheik Hasina, has gained a clear majority of the parliamentary seats in Bangladesh's election. International observers are preliminarily deeming the election fair, which came after a two-year period of emergency rule by an army-backed caretaker government.  There are high hopes there that the poverty-wracked country of 150 million people is putting its legacy of autocratic, corrupt and violent politics behind it.

Election officials say the Awami League overwhelmingly was the dominant party in the first parliamentary election here in seven years. The secular, left-of-center party, led by Sheik Hasina, captured about 230 of the parliament's 300 seats. Allied parties won about another 30. The Awami League now has a mandate to push through constitutional changes and its sweeping reform manifesto.

The election commission says a record 85 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

The results are a crushing defeat for Hasina's long-time foe, former prime minister Khaleda Zia, who allied with several other parties, including an Islamic fundamentalist group.  

Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party is formally complaining that its supporters were kept from voting in various places.

Such allegations are not swaying the preliminary opinion of domestic and international observers that the election process, while not perfect, was conducted in a fair manner and free of the widespread vote-rigging typical of past elections.

Former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Constance Berry Newman, led the 65-person observer delegation of the International Republican Institute.

"Though observers noted many procedural irregularities they did not believe them of the scope and severity that would call into question the legitimacy of the process or the outcome," said Newman.

Despite the Awami League's overwhelming victory, Melbourne University (Australia) political science research fellow Syeed Ahamed says Sheik Hasina's party must give its arch-rival a role in parliamentary affairs.

"Even if BNP has only some say 30 to 35 seats in the popular vote they actually present almost 50 percent of the population," said Ahamed. "That should be kept in mind. If Awami League do not put BNP in a significant position, what will happen if actually BNP resigns en masse from the parliament? It will be chaos."

The two major rival parties traded power during a 15-year period that ended in 2006 with political violence on the streets spinning out of control. That compelled the military to intervene, installing a caretaker government.

The interim leaders vowed a crackdown on political corruption, jailing hundreds of people, including Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia. The two fierce rivals, known as the "Battling Begums" and heirs to political dynasties, were freed to contest the long-delayed election.




Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs