Sheikh Hasina wins third term in Bangladesh, Opposition calls election rigged


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling party has taken a big lead over the opposition in the election, early results and trends showed, which has been marred by violence that killed 17 people and allegations of vote rigging.

Ms Hasina's ruling party has so far won 281 of the 350 parliamentary seats, surpassing its previous election wins.

Opposition leader Kamal Hossain said their alliance, the National Unity Front led by the BNP, had called on the Election Commission to order a fresh vote under a neutral administration " as soon as possible", alleging Sunday's poll was flawed. Hindustan Times delivers the news across all social media platforms, on the web, and at your doorstep.

The deadly violence and bitter rivalry that marred the election campaign spilled over into voting day, even as authorities imposed tight security with 600,000 troops, police and other security forces deployed across the country.

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was on Sunday elected virtually unopposed from the Gopalganj-3 constituency as she won a landslide victory, bagging 229,539 votes while her main BNP opponent could manage just 123.

At least 17 people have been killed in clashes between ruling party supporters and the opposition.

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Awami League's Joint Secretary Jahangir Kabir Nanak said the opposition had been rejected by voters and that its refusal to accept voting results was "not unusual". The leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Khaleda Zia (R) is now serving a 17-year jail term on graft charges that her BNP insists were "politically motivated".

Hossain said he would meet opposition alliance members on Monday to decide their next step.

However, voters in provincial areas reported intimidation. "We have asked our officials to deal with them", said K.M. Nurul Huda, Bangladesh's chief election commissioner.

As many as 57 opposition and independent candidates, including 26 Jamaat-e-Islami adherents, pulled out of the race when the voting was still in progress. The two women have alternated in power for most of the past three decades but Khaleda has been in jail since February on corruption charges that she says are politically motivated.

Mobile internet was blocked and the streets of the capital, Dhaka were largely deserted as many had left to vote in their home towns. "This is probably the last election for me and I want a suitable candidate for my country", 98-year-old Abdus Salam said at a Dhaka polling station. Atiar Rahman said he was beaten by ruling party activists in the central district of Narayanganj. "They told me not to bother, "We'll cast your vote on your behalf", he told AFP.

There are over 104 million registered voters in the country.

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According to the final results, Hasina herself won with an astounding vote count - 1,000 times more than all her rivals put together.

Nationwide voting opened Sunday morning in Bangladesh's general elections to elect hundreds of representatives to parliament amid reports of stray violence.

While rights groups have sounded the alarms about the erosion of Bangladesh's democracy, Ms Hasina has highlighted an ambitious economic agenda that has propelled Bangladesh past larger neighbours Pakistan and India by some development measures.

Hasina and her main rival Zia have been in and out of power - and prison - for decades.

In addition, opposition workers say they have faced violent attacks and intimidation, including shootings and arrests, that have stunted their ability to campaign. No-one from the opposition parties was visible.

Hasina's son Wazed told Reuters on the eve of the election the next government would try to lift Bangladesh's growth rate to 10 per cent, from 7.8 per cent in the 2017/18 financial year.

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