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Jan 28
Business & Politics
Hasina wins Bangladesh local vote

Bangladeshi worker hangs posters for the local elections The Awami League of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has won a local poll boost following its victory in general elections last month.

Candidates stood as independents in the elections held on Thursday but those affiliated with the Awami League won 306 of the 463 seats.

Correspondents say that the results further consolidate Sheikh Hasina’s grip on power.

The result also provides her with a rural power base, analysts say.

The local polls were held amid charges of violence and rigging. However correspondents say that the level of violence was lower than in previous polls and reports of confrontations between rival sets of supporters were scattered.

The authorities suspended voting in seven out of 481 sub-districts.

‘Grossly rigged’

The vote – held in rural areas – follows general elections on 29 December in which a grand alliance led by Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League was swept to power.

Her rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia, alleged that the national vote was widely rigged, though independent monitors billed it fair and credible.

The BNP also said that Thursday’s elections were “grossly rigged” – they allege that Awami League activists stuffed ballot boxes, forced BNP agents out of polling stations and intimidated voters.

But the Awami League has denied the charges.

Chief Election Commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda admitted there were “irregularities” in the vote. He told the Reuters news agency that it was “influenced by people from the ruling party, including members of parliament and even ministers”.

Correspondents say the elections are important insofar as both the Awami League and the BNP are eager to assert control in the villages, where 80% of the country’s population of more than 140 million people live.

Candidates elected on to the rural bodies control local development and social welfare projects, mostly funded by foreign governments or agencies.

Sheikh Hasina began her second five-year spell in power on 6 January after two years of rule by a military-backed interim authority, promising good governance as one of her top priorities.

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