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Bangladeshi PM sworn in amid political crisis

Sheikh Hasina sworn in as opposition parties continue to declare the election results illegitimate.

Last updated: 12 Jan 2014 14:45
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The election was plagued by violence and protests [Reuters]

Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Bangladesh's prime minister on Sunday for a third spell, after a deadly election boycotted by the opposition.

Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid administered the oath at the presidential palace in the capital Dhaka in a ceremony broadcast live on television channels.

"I am, Sheikh Hasina, taking oath...that I will discharge my duties faithfully as the prime minister of the government as per the law," Hasina said to applause from the audience.

Hasina's 48-member cabinet was also sworn into office during the ceremony attended by about 1,000 government and top military officials, along with foreign diplomats and newly elected members of parliament.

Hasina has insisted her walkover win in the January 5 elections was legitimate, despite the vote being boycotted by the opposition and its allies in the deadliest election violence in the country's history.

Hasina's Awami League party won nearly 80 percent of the seats, which should allow her to rule for another five years.

But analysts say the new government could be short-lived since Hasina faces a deepening political crisis and mounting calls for new polls from the international community and the opposition.

'Dictatorial government'

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, said the new government was not legitimate, but an autocratic dictatorial government devoid of the representation of the people.

On Saturday, Khaleda, 68, left her residence for a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Lee Jung after two weeks of under virtual "house arrest", which the government denied.

Both heirs to political dynasties, Hasina and Khaleda have alternated as prime minister for all but two of the past 22 years.

The United States has called on the new government and opposition to engage in immediate dialogue to find a way to hold "free, fair, peaceful, and credible" elections as soon as possible.

Nearly 150 people were killed in election violence in recent months.

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Source:
Agencies
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