The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has won the 2024 general elections for 5th time in a row amid accusations of human rights violations, brute opposition crackdowns and an opposition boycott.
Hasina’s victory was announced during the counting process on Sunday when the official declared her as victor.
Her political party, The Awami League, grabbed 50 per cent of the parliamentary seats, said an election commission spokesperson said.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which became a target of mass arrest waves, called for a general strike, urging the citizens not to vote, and refused to partake, labelling the elections as a ‘sham’.
Whereas the AL did not face any competition in the seats it contested, raising eyebrows at the elections being referred to as a one-party parliament. However, the party diplomatically left a few constituencies uncontested, possibly to avoid any criticism.
Hasina, who dismissed the BNP as terrorists, asked the citizens to embrace democracy with open arms. After casting her vote, she said, “I am trying my best to ensure that democracy should continue in this country.”
Consistent Fear of Crackdown
The BNP and other opposition parties had staged months of protest against Hasina’s government’s unfair conduct, demanding her resignation ahead of the elections.
There was heavy deployment of at least 800,000 police officers and soldiers across Bangladesh. Whereas the election day still suffered a violent incident in the port city of Chittagong. Authorities broke up an opposition protest with tear gas and shotguns, raising concerns about the overall fairness of the polls.
While election officials kept maintaining that the voting process went on without disruption, the incident in Chittagong, cast a shadow of doubt on the democratic process.
Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch expressing her worries, stated that the government had failed to assure the opposition of fair polls, warning that “many fear a further crackdown.”
The long-term rivalry of Hasina, daughter of the country’s founding leader and Khaleda Zia, a two-time premier and wife of a former military leader has always dominated the politics of the world’s 8th most populous country.
Zia, 78, was found guilty of graft in 2018 and is currently in a hospital in Dhaka due to her ailing health. Her son, Tarique Rahman, runs the BNP who lives in exile in London and runs the party in her place. Whereas Ms Hasina has been an assertive victor since returning to power in a 2009 landslide win, with two following polls amalgamated with many peculiarities and accusations of rigging.
The 5th time Prime Minister of Bangladesh has not only called out on Bangladesh Nationalist Party as terrorists but has also accused the BNP of arson and sabotage during last year’s protest campaign which saw several people killed in police confrontations but was still referred to as peaceful.
Economic blows such as sharp spikes in food expenses and months of chronic electricity outages in 2022 have left many disappointed with Hasina’s governance.