Bangladesh: Political history

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


Jamaat I Islami

2023: SC upholds verdict banning it from elections

Nov 19, 2023: The Hindu

Bangladesh's highest court on November 19 dismissed an appeal by the country's largest Islamist party seeking to overturn a 2013 ruling that barred it from participating in elections for violating the constitutional provision of secularism Bangladesh is set to hold its next national elections on January 7.

A five-member bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Obaidul Hassan handed out the ruling. Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami's main lawyer did not appear before the court due to “personal problems” and his petition, filed previously, seeking to postpone the hearing for six weeks was also rejected.

The High Court's decision 10 years ago canceled the party's registration with the Election Commission, thus stopping it from participating in elections or using party symbols. But it did not ban it from political particpation.

The ruling, at the time, came amid calls to ban the party for opposing the country's 1971 independence war against Pakistan. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, after coming to power in 2009, sought to try Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami's top leaders for their role in acts of genocide and war crimes during the country's independence war. Some have been hanged or given life sentences since 2013.

“The verdict of the High Court has been upheld,” Tania Amir, a lawyer who stood against the Jamaat-e-Islami party, said Sunday. “If they [Jamaat-e-Islami] attempt any meetings, rallies or gatherings or identify their party as legal to any high commission, embassy, foreign agency or state, we are at liberty to bring a new charge of contempt of court against them and an injunction,” she said.

But Matiur Rahman Akanda, a lawyer for the party, said that the it would continue to be politically active.

“The court gave its opinion on whether the registration [with the Election Commission] will be upheld," he said, “there is no way to ban politics constitutionally.” There have long been multiple calls in Bangladesh by secular forces and others to ban the Islamist party, but the government hasn't complied.

The United States also considers it a moderate Islamist party.

Despite Sunday's decision by the High Court, it again remained unclear if Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami could continue its activities. Usually, the Ministry of Home Affairs is the entity that bans radical groups deemed as anti-state.

Jamaat-e-Islami has been a key partner to the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who has been the archrival of the current head of government, Ms. Hasina, for decades. The Islamist party and Zia shared power in 2001-2006 when the latter was the premier In January, Ms. Hasina will seek to return to power for a fourth consecutive term while Zia's party has threatened to boycott the polls. The Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami says they also will boycott elections under Ms. Hasina.



Sheikh Hasina vs. Khaleda Zia

Sheikh Hasina vs. Khaleda Zia, 1991-2018
From: January 2, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

Sheikh Hasina vs. Khaleda Zia, 1991-2018


Court jails ex-PM Zia for five years

Bangladesh court jails opposition leader Khaleda Zia for five years, February 8, 2018: The Times of India


Zia, 72, was sentenced in connection with embezzlement of 21 million takas ($252,000) in foreign donations.

In the same case, her son Tarique Rahman and four others have been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Bangladesh's former Prime Minister and opposition BNP chief Khaleda Zia was sentenced to five years in jail in a corruption case. Zia, 72, was sentenced by the Special Court-5 in the capital, Dhaka, in connection with embezzlement of 21 million takas ($252,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust.

In the same case, her son Tarique Rahman and four others have been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

The ex-premier on November 30, 2014 lost her last ditch effort to evade the graft trial as the Supreme Court turned down her second 'leave to appeal' petition challenging her indictment and asked her to face trial in the lower court.

The high court earlier validated the trial in the lower court which on March 19, 2014 had indicted Zia on two graft charges brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The ACC alleged that the two charities, the other being the Zia Charitable Trust, existed only on paper and a huge amount of money was misappropriated in the name of the two organisations while Zia was premier during the BNP's 2001-2006 government.

Awami League wins 288/ 300 seats, Hasina gets 3rd straight term

Hasina gets 3rd straight term as Awami League wins 288 of 300 seats, January 1, 2019: The Times of India

Bangladesh’s ruling alliance won virtually every parliamentary seat in the country’s general election, according to official results released Monday, giving PM Sheikh Hasina a third straight term despite allegations of intimidation and the opposition disputing the outcome.

The coalition led by Hasina’s Awami League party won 288 out of 300 seats, or 96%, in Sunday’s polls. The opposition alliance led by lawyer Kamal Hossain won only seven seats. The opposition rejected the outcome, with Hossain calling the election “farcical” and demanding a new one be held under the authority of a “nonpartisan government”. But chief election commissioner K M Nurul Huda ruled out any revote, saying there were no reports of irregularities.

With Hasina’s thumping win, India plans to continue investing in Bangladesh to build on the growing economy of its neighbour and make it the linchpin of India’s Act East policy.

Victorious debut for ODI skipper Mortaza

Hasina gets 3rd straight term as Awami League wins 288 of 300 seats, January 1, 2019: The Times of India

Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza, 35, has become the first active cricketer in the country to be elected as a lawmaker. The Awami League candidate for Narail-2 constituency got 2.7 lakh votes — 96% of votes cast— while the Jatiya Oikya Front alliance nominee managed barely 8,000.

Bangla ODI captain wins by a landslide

January 1, 2019: The Times of India

Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza has registered a landslide victory in the 11th general elections, becoming the first active cricketer in the country to be elected as a lawmaker.

Mortaza, an Awami League candidate for Narail-2 constituency, got 274,418 votes while his rival Jatiya Oikya Front alliance nominee Fariduzzaman Farhad received 8,006 votes, according to the Election Commission.

The total number of votes in the Narail-2 constituency is 317, 844. Mortaza’s vote share amounts to over 96%, the Dhaka Tribune reported. The 35-year-old pacer, known as the ‘Narail Express’, is the second national cricket team captain after Naimur Rahman Durjoy to become an MP. He is the first active player to achieve the honour, the report said.

Mortaza filed his nomination last month. He became the first-ever sitting cricketer to try his luck in national politics. PM Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League-led alliance swept to a landslide victory in the general elections.


Jan: Hasina secures 4th straight term as Bangladesh PM

January 8, 2024: Business Standard

Hasina secures 4th straight term as B’desh PM

Initial Results Show Her Party Has Won 2/3rd Of Seats; Wins Constituency With Landslide Margin; Voter Turnout 40%

Dhaka : Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured a record fourth straight term as her Awami League party won two-thirds of the seats in the general elections marred by sporadic violence and a boycott by the main opposition BNP and its allies. It will be her fifth term, overall.

Hasina’s party won 200 seats in the 300-seat parliament even as counting continued after the day-long voting. “We can call Awami League winner with the already available results but the final announcement will be made after the end of the counting of votes in the rest of the constituencies,” an election commission spokesperson told reporters. Hasina, 76, won the Gopalganj-3 seat for the eighth time since 1986. She bagged 249,965 votes while her nearest rival M Nizam Uddin Lashkar from the Bangladesh Supreme Party secured just 469 votes.
At least 18 arson attacks preceded the vote but the election day was relatively calm. Turnout was around 40%, chief election commissioner Kazi Hab ibul Awal said after the polls closed, citing initial estimates.
A total of 119.6 million registered voters were eligible to vote in over 42,000 polling stations. The 2018 election saw an overall turnout of more than 80%.
Security incidents, including four deaths in an arson attack on a passenger train on Friday, have intensified tensions ahead of the election that was shunned by the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allied groups.

They accuse Hasina of turning Bangladesh into a one-party state and muzz ling dissent and civil society.
Authorities blamed much of the violence on the BNP, accusing it of seeking to sabotage the election. On Saturday, police arrested seven men belonging to the BNP and its youth wing for their alleged involvement in the train attack. The party denied any role in the incident.
The vote, like previous elections, has been defined by the bitter rivalry between Hasina’s Awami League and BNP, led by former premier Khaleda Zia, who is ailing and under house arrest on corruption charges, which her supporters claim are politically motivated. The BNP, whose ranks have been decimated by mass arrests, called a general strike and, along with dozens of others, refused to participate in a “sham election”. But Hasina called for citizens to show faith in the democratic process.

“The BNP is a terrorist organisation,” she told reporters after casting her vote. The government has rejected a monthslong demand by the BNP to have a neutral caretaker government administer the vote. The BNP previously boycotted the 2014 election but joined the one in 2018. Besides the BNP, fifteen other political parties boycotted the election this year.
Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader claimed that the people have rejected the boycott of the election by casting their ballots. “I sincerely thank those who braved the fear of vandalism, arson, and terrorism to participate in the 12th national parliamentary elections,” Quader said. BNP leaders claimed that the low voter turnout was proof that their boycott movement had been successful and said the party plans to intensify its antigovernment movement through a peaceful public engagement programme from Tuesday.
The government has defended the election, saying 27 parties and 404 independent candidates are participating.

But with scores of candidates from the Awami League running as independents and mostly smaller opposition parties in the race, analysts said that Hasina’s win was near inevitable.
Hasina, who has been ru ling the strategically located South Asian nation since 2009, is credited with transforming the economy of a young nation born out of war and making its garment sector one of the world’s most competitive. Her supporters say she has staved off military coups and neutralised the threat of Islamic militancy.

And internationally, she’s helped raise Bangladesh’s profile as a nation capable of doing business and maintaining diplomatic ties with nations often at odds with each other, like India and China.
Yet her critics say her rise has risked turning Bangladesh into becoming a one-party state where democracy is under threat, as emboldened government agencies increasingly use oppressive tools to mute critics, shrink press freedoms and restrict civil society.
On Sunday, Hasina cast her vote at Dhaka City College polling centre. Her daughter accompanied her. In response to a question on India, Hasina said the country is a “trusted friend” of Bangladesh. PTI, AP, AFP

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