Bangladesh’s new government was finally sworn in on Sunday 12th January, a week after the ruling party had won a turbulent election.
With the opposition party boycotting the votes, there were a host of international calls for a fresh and inclusive poll which never occured.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘Awami League’ ended with more than two-thirds of seats in a contest that was shunned by international observers as flawed and derided as a farce by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
With fewer than half the seats contested, the outcome was never in doubt, much like last week’s referendum vote in Egypt.
The new cabinet were sworn in on Sunday afternoon, with Hasina, 64, taking oath as Prime Minister for the third term.
The BNP, led by former premier and Hasina’s bitter rival Begum Khaleda Zia, said the new government was not legitimate, but an ‘autocratic dictatorial government devoid of the representation of the people’.
On Saturday, Khaleda, left her residence for a meeting with Chinese Ambassador Lee Jung after two weeks of under virtual ‘house arrest’, which the government denied.
Mashiur Rahman, an adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said the week prior that Khaleda had been prevented from leaving her residence because she had called on activists to carry out violence to resist the election
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.
Hasina has vowed tougher action in a bid to end violence that is also threatening the country’s $22billion garment export industry. Nearly 150 people were killed in election violence in recent months.