Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League party won Sunday's controversial general election, local TV said. Hasina's alliance easily crossed the 151 seats required to form a government, according to Channel 24, which is compiling results from around the country.
Earlier in the evening, the Election Commission announced Hasina's victory from Gopalgunj-3 constituency by a landslide, bagging 229,539 votes while her main BNP opponent could manage just 123.
The election process was marred by violence as at least 17 people were killed in clashes after a bloody campaign overshadowed by a crackdown on the opposition by Hasina who is expected to win a historic but controversial fourth term.
Three men were shot by police while six others died in clashes between activists from the ruling Bangladesh Awami League and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), police said. An auxiliary police member was killed after being attacked by opposition activists armed with guns and sticks, according to officials.
Bangladesh's leader has been lauded for boosting economic growth in the poor Asian nation during an unbroken decade in power and for welcoming Rohingya refugees fleeing a military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar.
But critics accuse her of authoritarianism and crippling the opposition — including arch-rival Khaleda Zia who is serving 17 years in prison on graft charges — to cling on to power.
Reacting to the verdict, Bangladesh's opposition NUF alliance, with jailed ex-premier Khaleda Zia's BNP as its key partner, demanded fresh polls under a neutral caretaker government. The National Unity Front (NUF) is a coalition of parties including the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Gono Forum, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal-JSD, Nagorik Oikya and Krishak Sramik Janata League.
"We reject the results and demand a new election under a neutral government," NUF convenor Kamal Hossain, who heads the Gono Forum party, told a media conference. "We ask that you cancel this election right away," Hossain urged the election commission claiming "we have reports that fraudulence took place in almost all centres".
BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who steered the party in Zia's absence and won from his northeastern constituency, described the polls as a "cruel farce". "This has caused long-term damage to the country...the nation has incurred huge damage," he said.