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Hasina offers rival a share of power

Latest update : 2008-12-31

After a landslide victory in parliamentary elections this week, former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina offered a senior governmental post to bitter rival Begum Khaleda Zia to 'strengthen democracy'. Khaleda had made claims of vote-rigging.

Watch how the Web covered the election here

 

Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Wednesday she would
share power with the opposition despite winning a massive majority in
Bangladesh's parliamentary election this week.

 

Hasina said she was ready to offer a senior parliamentary
post to her bitter political rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, who has
rejected the results of elections that returned the
impoverished country to democracy after two years of emergency
rule.

 

Speaking at her first post-election news conference, Hasina
urged Khaleda to accept the results and said the vote had been
fair, adding she wanted her government to work with all sides
to establish a new political culture in Bangladesh.

 

"As winners, we have to deal with everything with a sense
of forgiveness and accommodation instead of vengeance, to take
the country forward in cooperation with all irrespective of party
affiliation," Hasina said.

 

Hasina's Awami League and its allies won more than two
thirds of parliament's 300 seats in Bangladesh's first election
in seven years on Monday.

 

An army-backed interim government had suspended many
political rights after cancelling an election in January 2007
amidst widespread political violence.

 

Army intervention

 

Although independent monitors said the ballot was fair,
Khaleda, another former prime minister, alleged widespread
fraud. Her coalition took just 31 seats.

 

"So we reject the election outcome," Khaleda said late on
Tuesday. Her Bangladesh Nationalist Party had already
complained on election night that its supporters were kept from
voting in various parts of the country.

 

In the past, opposition parties in impoverished Bangladesh
have often resorted to strikes and street protests that can
turn violent -- and provide a rationale for intervention in the
political process by the military.

 

Widespread protests have yet to happen this week, although
scattered violence has broken out in the low-lying Indian Ocean
nation of more than 140 million people.

 

One man was killed and about 150 people injured on Tuesday
in clashes between rival political activists, a private television
station reported.

 

Strong security, imposed before Monday's election, remained
in place. The capital Dhaka appeared calm on Wednesday and a
senior security official said there were no serious problems.

 

Hasina told U.N. election observers at her Dhaka home late
on Tuesday she wanted to work with all sides to strengthen
democracy and achieve economic progress, a spokesman for her
Awami League said.

 

Hasina and Khaleda alternated in power during the 15 years
up to 2006 in Bangladesh's personality-dominated politics. But
many problems went unresolved, in part due to the protests,
strikes and street violence by their parties when out of office.

 

The turbulence kept investors away and distracted the
government from daunting challenges, including endemic
corruption, political and social unrest and Islamic militancy.

 

Hasina has pledged to contain prices and promote growth in
a country where 45 percent of the population live below the
poverty line.

 


 

 

Date created : 2008-12-31

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