Central & South Asia

Newly elected Bangladesh MPs sworn in

Opposition condemns election marred by violence as a farce, vows to overthrow Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Last updated: 09 Jan 2014 08:34
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The election was the bloodiest in Bangladesh's history, with at least 26 people killed [AP]

Bangladesh's newly elected lawmakers have taken the parliamentary oath with the country still engulfed in deadly confrontations.

Led by Sheikh Hasina, the current prime minister, members of parliament from the ruling Awami League and lawmakers from her allies were sworn in on Thursday.

"The speaker of the outgoing parliament administered the swearing-in. Only a few MPs could not take the oath in time. They'll be sworn in later today," parliament's spokesman Joynal Abedin said. 

The Awami League won 232 of 300 seats in Sunday's parliamentary polls, which were boycotted by the opposition and hit by the deadliest election violence in the country's history.

A total of 153 Awami League members or allies were elected unopposed as a result of the boycott, imposed over Hasina's decision to change the electoral process. 

Analysts say the new parliament could be short-lived as Hasina faces a worsening political crisis and mounting calls for new polls from the opposition.

At least 26 people were killed during the election, making it the bloodiest vote in Bangladesh's 43-year history.

International pressure

Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by two-times former prime minister Khaleda Zia, called the weekend vote a farce. Zia, who is under de facto house arrest, has demanded the polls be declared null and void and that new elections be held under a neutral government headed by a caretaker leader. 

An opposition blockade of roads, rail and waterways was only partially imposed in the capital, with many activists behind bars after a crackdown by security forces in the weeks running up to Sunday's election.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon urged the two parties "to resume meaningful dialogue" urgently to create "an inclusive political process".

The United States called for a vote that would "credibly express the will" of the people and asked the parties "to engage in immediate dialogue to find a way to hold as soon as possible elections that are free, fair, peaceful, and credible", brushing aside Hasina's insistence her victory was legitimate. 


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