Bangladesh elects new Prime Minister
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina has won a landslide victory in Monday's first Bangladesh election since 2001, to return the South Asian country to democracy and after two years of emergency rule under an army-backed interim caretaker government. Commission spokesman S.M. Asaduzzaman declares "she has a clear majority to govern without any other party."
Election official Humayun Kabir on Tuesday has confirmed that Hasina's Bangladesh Awami League alliance obtained a two-thirds majority in the 330-seat unicameral National Parliament, the Jatiya Sangsad. "Voter turnout was high, with about 70 percent of the 81 million eligible voters casting ballots," he added. According to Channel i, unofficial counts reveal Hasina's Bangladesh Awami League coalition got 255 seats, while former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia had only 32 seats, and independents and other minor parties have had only five seats. The results have been declared in 267 of 300 seats, according to the Election Commission’s public relations officer, S.M. Asadujan.
Sheikh Hasina (শেখ হাসিনা ওয়াজেদ Shekh Hasina Oajed) was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1996 to 2001. She has been the President of the Awami League, a major political party in Bangladesh, since 1981. She was the second female prime minister of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ [ˈbaŋlad̪eʃ]), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh (গণপ্রজাতন্ত্রী বাংলাদেশ Gônoprojatontri Bangladesh) is a country in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma (Myanmar) to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south. Together with the Indian state of West Bengal, it makes up the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal.
The general election was held in Bangladesh on 29 December, after being postponed from the original date of 18 December 2008. It was originally scheduled for 21 January 2007, but postponed by two days due to demands by the opposition made in December 2006.
The general election has been contested between Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League. The Awami League has formed a 14-party alliance including Ershad's Jatiya Party, and the BNP has formed a 4-party alliance which includes the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami. Both Zia and Hasina, however, still have pending corruption charges. In 2007, both were detained but were released on bail.
Bangladesh has been under the 2007 interim caretaker government (বাংলাদেশের তত্ত্বাবধায়ক সরকার). Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed (ড. ফখরুদ্দীন আহমেদ Fokhruddin Ahmed) was appointed as the Chief Adviser (Head of the Government) of the non-party interim caretaker government of Bangladesh on 12 January, 2007, amidst chaos in Bangladeshi politics. President Iajuddin Ahmed swore him into Office.
The Election Commission has earlier announced the following numbers: Registered voters: 81,130,973; Candidates: 1,538; Constituencies: 300; Registered parties: 32. International Crisis Group's Rhoderick Chalmers says “It will be very hard for the BNP to swallow the result, but it will be very hard to reject outright. Early indications were that it was a clean election. There wasn’t much possibility for rigging.”
Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, European Union's chief election observer, has reported that "what we have heard is that voting has largely been peaceful, turnout has been high and procedures were followed adequately." The EU participated among the 200,000 observers including 2,500 vote watchers from abroad. A UN-funded digital electoral roll erased 12.7 million fake election names, and this has resulted in stopping widespread vote rigging allowed in previous elections.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has issued a congratulatory statement to the Bangladesh Election Commission on the successful election. The United States has vowed "to continue to support the Bangladesh people and its new government," it added.
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