Bangladesh’s Hasina Seeks Unprecedented Fourth Term as Premier
(Bloomberg) -- Bangladesh voted for a government Sunday with early results showing a lead for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling party, putting her in position to extend her rule as the longest serving premier since the nation became independent in 1971. The opposition called it a “farcical election.”
By early evening, 17 people had been reported killed in clashes between the ruling and the opposition party workers, according to the English-language Daily Star newspaper. Bangladesh’s $250 billion economy is expanding at 7.9 percent, making it among the fastest-growing in Asia. The nation is the second-largest exporter of apparel, which accounts for 13 percent of its gross domestic product.
- Hasina has pledged to accelerate economic growth to 10 percent in the next five years and slash the poverty rate to 9 percent by 2020 from 21.8 percent; she promises to create 12.8 million jobs in the nation where about 40 percent of voters are between 18 and 35 years old
- Bangladesh Bank restricted mobile fund transfers for 48 hours until voting ended at 4 p.m. Sunday to curb the influence of money on the polls
- Opposition alliance chief Kamal Hossain called the vote farcical as he spoke to reporters in Dhaka after polls closed
- Hossain said other opposition parties received reports of vote fraud by the ruling Awami League and urged the Election Commission to hold fresh polls under neutral government
- Hossain, 81, led the unified opposition in the absence of Khaleda Zia, leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, who is serving time in jail after she was convicted of corruption
- Foreign direct investment into Bangladesh rose 62 percent to $2.2 billion between 2017 and 2009, when Hasina, 71, came to power, according to World Bank data
- The garment industry predicts overseas sales will rise to $50 billion by 2021 from $30 billion
- “We have political stability at this moment and that must continue,” said David Hasanat, chairman of apparel exporter Viyellatex Group. “Political stability has helped our business to grow”
- Bangladesh’s unicameral parliament has 350 seats, of which 300 are for elected representatives. Polls are being held for 299 seats on Sunday
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.