Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has secured a fourth term with a landslide victory in polls the opposition slammed as “farcical” over claims of vote-rigging, and clashes between rival supporters that killed at least 17 people.
Hasina’s ruling Awami League party and its allies won 288 seats in the 300-seat parliament, with the main opposition securing only six seats, Election Commission secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed said.
Hasina’s government had mounted a crackdown on the opposition, an alliance led by the Bangladesh National Party, which urged the country’s election commission to void the results.
“We are demanding that a fresh election is held under a neutral government as early as possible,” Kamal Hossain, who heads the alliance, told reporters.
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.
Thirteen people were killed in clashes between Awami League and BNP supporters, police said, while three men were shot by police who said they were protecting polling booths.
An auxiliary police member was also killed by armed opposition activists, according to officials.
Ms. Hasina (71), has been lauded for boosting economic growth in the poor South Asian nation during her decade in power and for welcoming Rohingya refugees fleeing a military crackdown in neighboring Myanmar.
But critics accuse her of authoritarianism and crippling the opposition — including arch-rival and BNP leader Khaleda Zia who is serving 17 years in prison on graft charges.
The opposition alliance on Sunday accused Hasina’s party of using stuffed ballot boxes and other illegal means to fix the result.
BNP spokesman Syed Moazzem Hossain Alal told reporters there were “irregularities” in 221 of the 300 seats contested.
“Voters are not allowed to enter booths. Especially women voters are being forced to vote for the boat,” Alal said, referring to the Awami League symbol.
Experts say Ms. Hasina’s victory will be sullied by accusations that she hamstrung opponents.
The opposition claims more than 15,000 of its activists were detained during the campaign, crushing its ability to mobilize support.
Seventeen opposition candidates were arrested over what they said were trumped-up charges while another 17 were disqualified from running by courts, which Hasina’s opponents say are government controlled.