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Sheikh Hasina storms to power in Bangladesh
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December 30, 2008 10:05 IST
Last Updated: December 30, 2008 12:21 IST

Awami League-led alliance headed by Sheikh Hasina [Images], who has a good equation with Indian leadership and favours strong ties with New Delhi [Images], on Tuesday won a landslide victory in Bangladesh's general elections held under a neutral caretaker government after nearly two years of emergency rule.

The Election Commission has so far announced 'unofficial' results of 295 seats of the 300-seat parliament saying, the Hasina's alliance won 258 seats while her archrival ex-premier Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led four-party grouping won in 31 constituencies.

Five seats went to other small parties and independents while results of the four others were pending.

A beaming Hasina, who lost power to Zia's BNP by a huge margin in 2001, asked her party to show restraint and not to stage any victory processions until the results were officially published. She also urged her rivals to accept the results to end the years of confrontational politics.

"Our leader has called for change and the people have responded to her call," AL spokesman Nuh Alam Lenin said soon after the poll out come was known.

"They have given a thumping verdict against corruption and criminalisation of the past regime," he said.

Meanwhile, Zia's BNP was quick to raise the issue of electoral fraud.

"There have been a lot of irregularities," BNP spokesman Rizvi Ahmed said.

He alleged that his party supporters were kept from voting, and their polling agents and officials were barred from performing their duties.

Hasina, who is close to New Delhi, was in power from 1996-2001 and during the period Bangladesh's bilateral ties with India were at its best. The historic Ganges [Images] water sharing treaty between the two countries was signed during her regime. The Election Commission officials said over 80 per cent of voters exercised the franchise to elect the country's ninth parliament after seven years of gap.

"We are expecting to get the results of all the 299 seats in next few hours" as the election was postponed in one of the 300 constituencies following the death of a candidate ahead of the polls, an EC spokesman said.

Foreign observers and independent poll monitor groups widely appreciated the voting, held for the first time under a digital electoral roll with photographs, but Zia hinted about 'election engineering and rigging' as her party said it lodged complaints with the election against 'irregularities' in 220 polling centres.

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