Bangladesh PM Hasina seeks people’s support at victory rally

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Supporters wave Awami League political party flags during a rally celebrating the party's overwhelming victory in last month's election in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. (AP Photo)
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Supporters of Bangladesh Awami League attend a grand rally in Dhaka on January 19, 2019, to celebrate its landslide victory in 11th parliamentary election held on December 30. (AFP)
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A supporter of Bangladesh Awami League attends a grand rally in Dhaka on January 19, 2019, to celebrate its landslide victory in 11th parliamentary election held on December 30. (AFP)
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A supporters of Bangladesh Awami League with his hair cut like the party election symbol (boat) gestures in Dhaka on January 19, 2019, as they attend a grand rally, to celebrate its landslide victory in 11th parliamentary election held on December 30. (AFP)
Updated 19 January 2019
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Bangladesh PM Hasina seeks people’s support at victory rally

  • The opposition is demanding a new election, saying the Dec. 30 polls were rigged
  • The Election Commission and Hasina have rejected the allegation

DHAKA: Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who won a third straight term with an overwhelming majority in last month’s election, sought the people’s support at a victory rally Saturday amid international calls for an investigation into alleged irregularities during the polls.
The opposition is demanding a new election, saying the Dec. 30 polls were rigged, an allegation the Election Commission and Hasina have rejected.
On Saturday, Hasina told tens of thousands of her supporters in a park in Dhaka, the capital, that she would “work for all” amid criticism that she could become increasingly authoritarian.
A Hasina-led alliance won 288 seats in the 300-seat Parliament in the election. The opposition-led alliance won only seven seats, with all of its lawmakers refraining from taking their oaths to protest the results.
More than a dozen people were killed in election-related violence on the day of the polls, and the election campaign was dogged by allegations of arrests and the jailing of thousands of Hasina’s opponents.
Hasina’s archrival, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, has been in jail since February last year for corruption and was deemed ineligible to run for office because of a case that her supporters say was politically motivated.
The Election Commission and other departments were also accused of overlooking complaints of irregularities by the opposition. Ahead of the election, a new digital security law was enacted that raised concerns it would curb speech and media freedoms.
Hasina, who had asked her supporters to avoid any immediate celebration after the election, thanked all political parties for contesting and termed the polls “fair.”
But she would not utter a single word Saturday about the opposition demand for a new election or global calls for an investigation into the allegations of irregularities.
“I want cooperation from the people ... let’s get united and build Bangladesh,” she told her cheering supporters, many of whom waved small red-and-green national flags.
“The (people’s) verdict in the Dec. 30 polls came against terrorism, corruption and drugs,” she said. “I will uphold their mandate, if necessary, by sacrificing my life.”
While New York-based Human Rights Watch urged an independent investigation into the alleged irregularities, the US, the EU and the UN all expressed their concerns. But powerful countries including the US pledged to continue to work with the Hasina-led government and the opposition for democratic advancement in the South Asian nation of 160 million people, which is a parliamentary democracy.
Congratulatory messages to the new government came from India, China, Saudi Arabia, Japan and many other countries, giving Hasina confidence that her development agenda has attracted nations, many of which are directly involved in trade and big infrastructure development schemes in Bangladesh. Before the election, Hasina drummed up support for her development schemes ranging from a nuclear power plant to a new seaport.
On Saturday, Hasina promised to curb poverty as she painted a scene of “a developed country in South Asia” by 2041.


British aid worker, Nigerian man shot dead at resort, 4 tourists abducted

British woman Faye Mooney killed by kidnappers in Nigeria. (Social media)
Updated 33 min 52 sec ago
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British aid worker, Nigerian man shot dead at resort, 4 tourists abducted

  • Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted
  • The conflict has increasingly taken on ethnic and religious dimensions in the region, with the Fulani Muslim herders in conflict with Christian Adara farmers in Kajuru

KANO, Nigeria: Two people including a British aid worker have been shot dead and four tourists abducted in an attack by armed gunmen on a holiday resort in northwestern Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
Police and aid agency Mercy Corps named the dead woman as Faye Mooney.
“Faye was a dedicated and passionate communications and learning specialist,” Chief executive Neal Keny-Guyer said in a statement posted on social media, adding that colleagues were “utterly heartbroken.”
Mooney had “worked with Mercy Corps for almost two years, devoting her time to making a difference in Nigeria,” Keny-Guyer added.
Gunmen stormed the Kajuru Castle resort, 60 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Kaduna City at 11.40 p.m. (2240 GMT) on Friday, Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo told reporters.
The Briton “was gunned down from the hill by the kidnappers who tried to gain entrance into the castle but failed,” Sabo said.
“They took away about five other locals but one person escaped,” he said.
A Nigerian man believed by local residents in Kajuru to be Mooney’s partner was also killed in the attack on the resort where a group of 13 tourists had arrived from Lagos, southwest Nigeria the police spokesman said.
In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become an increasingly rampant, particularly on the road to the capital, Abuja, where armed attacks have thrived.
Kidnapping in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted.
Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft.
Kajuru is also flash point in the deadly conflict over increasingly limited land resources in Africa’s most populous country, between herders and farmers, predominantly across central and northern Nigeria.
The conflict has increasingly taken on ethnic and religious dimensions in the region, with the Fulani Muslim herders in conflict with Christian Adara farmers in Kajuru.
Tourists are rarely affected by the herder-farmer violence and Kajuru Castle resort has attracted many foreign and local visitors.
Yet police have struggled to thwart kidnappers in the region. The latest attack comes in a resort in northern Nigeria, particularly popular among foreign and well-to-do local tourists.
In January four western tourists — two Americans and two Canadians — were also abducted in Kaduna by gunmen in an ambush in which two of their police escorts were killed.
Earlier in April, recently re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered his most senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region.