Dhaka, Bangladesh: Despite a boycott by the main opposition and low voter turnout, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured a record fifth term in office Sunday. Her Awami League party took more than half the seats in parliament, according to election officials.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) refused to participate, calling the election a “sham” and demanding Hasina’s resignation. Ms. Hasina, 76, accused the BNP of violence and labeled it a “terrorist organization.”
Turnout figures hovered around 40%, reflecting the lack of opposition and widespread reports of pressure tactics on voters. Several human rights groups expressed concerns about the fairness of the elections.
Despite the controversy, Ms. Hasina remains popular with many Bangladeshis who credit her with boosting the economy and expanding the garment industry. She also won international praise for sheltering Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in neighboring Myanmar.
However, her government faces challenges including rising food prices and power shortages, as well as accusations of human rights abuses and a crackdown on dissent.
With the BNP sidelined, Ms. Hasina’s party faces little immediate political opposition. But the low turnout and boycott raise questions about the legitimacy of her mandate and the future of democracy in Bangladesh.