RightТwing alliance set
for landslide win in Bangladesh parliament
By Farid Hossain, AP Writer
An alliance of rightist and fundamentalist Islamic parties headed by
former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia appeared set for a landslide win in
parliamentary elections in Bangladesh, ending a campaign that killed
more than 160 people.
Zia' s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the main constituent of the
fourТparty grouping, had won 186 of the 250 seats for which unofficial
results were reported by state television Tuesday. The Awami League of
former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, trailed behind with 35 seats.
The Islamic fundamentalist JamaatТeТIslami took 15 seats. The rest were
shared by smaller parties.
Complete results were expected by Wednesday. Elections to the 300Тseat
parliament were held Monday for 299 seats after the death of one
candidate. Voting for the remaining seat was to be held later.
The outcome of the voting is not expected to end the political violence
and general strikes that have plagued this MuslimТmajority South Asian
nation and sapped its economy. Last year strikes cost the country dlrs
3.3 billion Т 60 percent of its annual export income Т in lost
production and export.
Political violence is common in Bangladesh, plagued by political
assassinations, coups and street fighting between political party
Violence forced the postponement of balloting in 130 of the 30,000
voting centers that were guarded by half a million troops and police. At
least five people were killed and 300 were injured in scattered violence
during the voting. That raised the toll to 161 dead and 2,600 injured
since the campaign began July 15.
There was no immediate reaction available from Hasina's and Zia's
parties. Hasina was the country's latest prime minister until July 15,
when she transferred power to a caretaker administration to oversee the
polls. She was the first Bangladeshi leader to finish a term.
Analysts credited Hasina's government for achieving self sufficiency in
food, reduction of poverty and ending two decades of insurgency by
ethnic Chakma tribespeople in the country's southeastern Chittagong Hill
"The results have been surprising," said Matiur Rahman, editor of
Dhaka's Prothom Alo newspaper.
Most predicted a close fight between the two most powerful women in
MuslimТmajority Bangladesh, a neighbor of India and Myanmar.
The voting was supervised by a caretaker administration that took power
July 15, when Hasina became the first Bangladeshi leader to complete a
five year term in office.
Monday's elections were the fourth since the return of democracy in
1990, when Hasina and Zia had joined forces to oust military ruler
Hossain Mohammad Ershad, who was also a candidate Monday.
The voting was monitored by 300 foreign observers sent by the United
Nations and nearly 200,000 local, independent observers.
02 October 2001