Bangladesh PM rejects complaints of rigging after landslide win

DHAKA, Jan 1 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rejected opposition complaints of vote rigging and said people had gone to the polls enthusiastically in a general election that her ruling alliance swept with a landslide.

The victory consolidates Hasina’s decade-long rule in the South Asian nation, in which her government has overseen booming economic growth, but is accused of human rights abuses and suppressing dissent – charges her government denies.

In a victory speech at her official residence in the capital Dhaka, Hasina, 71, touted robust support for her Awami League-led alliance, which won 287 of the 298 seats, while the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led alliance got six seats.

“They voted so enthusiastically,” Hasina told a room full of journalists and foreign election observers. “What do people want? They want to fulfil their basic needs. When they feel that yes, only this government can ensure it, then definitely they will vote for us.”

The opposition rejected the result and called for a fresh vote, complaining of what it said was widespread rigging.

Neighbours India and China congratulated Hasina, and a visiting election monitoring group from South Asian countries said they had found nothing amiss in voting in the capital Dhaka.

There was no immediate statement from the European Union or the United States, which had expressed concern last week over campaign violence it said had mostly impacted opposition candidates, and a delay in visas for many U.S.-funded observers who couldn’t make it into the country.

At least 17 people were killed during Sunday’s poll that followed a violent election campaign in which both sides blamed the other for casualties.

Bangladesh’s Election Commission said it was investigating allegations of vote rigging but rejected demands for another vote.

Hasina, the longest-serving leader in the history of the Muslim-majority country of 165 million people, promised more development and an improved economy in her third straight term. — NNN-AGENCIES

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