DHAKA: Bangladesh is to form its new government by Jan. 10, a senior ruling party figure confirmed Tuesday, as the UN called for restraint after a controversial and deadly election.
The ruling alliance, led by the Awami League (AL), stormed to victory last month by seizing 288 parliamentary seats out of 298.
The opposition coalition, called the Jatiya Oikya Front (JOF), won just seven seats. It accused the government of dirty tricks and has demanded a fresh election.
The JOF, in addition to rejecting the result, said its newly elected lawmakers would not take the oath or take their seats in Parliament.
The UN urged stakeholders to maintain a peaceful post-election atmosphere, saying it was aware of violent incidents and reports of irregularities in the poll.
“We regret the loss of life and injuries sustained by candidates and voters during the electoral campaign and on election day,” a statement said.
AL General Secretary Obaidul Quader said lawmakers would be sworn in on Jan. 3 and that the formation of a new government would be completed by next week.
“After the oath taking, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will meet the president. Then the president will request the prime minister to form the government,” Quader told reporters in Dhaka.
“Earlier, they made a mistake by boycotting the 2014 election. Whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied, it’s their party matter. But those who have been elected this time will not show disrespect to the people’s verdict by not taking the oath.
“It is the concern of the Election Commission,” he said, referring to the JOF boycott. “Everything will be done according to the constitution. If any candidate fails to take the oath, the Election Commission will arrange necessary steps according to the constitution.”
The prime minister said opposition candidates were to blame for their defeat because they did not take the election seriously enough.
“The BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) got seven seats in the election only because of them. There is no fault on our part,” Hasina told foreign election observers and media on Monday. “We never saw a candidate sitting like this in an election… they only used their mobile phones to seek votes and that’s all. There was no campaign beyond that. What did they want to do?”
She also said the opposition’s dilemma over its choice of prime minister was another reason for the heavy defeat.
But a BNP figure said the government was to blame for the election outcome. “They have snatched away our votes and that’s why we have rejected it,” Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury told Arab News.
“We have formed the JOF alliance to reinstate the voting rights of the people and the alliance members will move together in the future as long as the voting rights of the people are restored.”
The AL’s landslide victory and the sliver of opposition seats was causing concern among political observers, according to Prof. Ataur Rahman of Dhaka University. He said the new government would be a regime of a different kind where the opposition would have a minimal role. He also said there would be no critical discourse or debate in the new Parliament.
“The new government will focus on the continuation of the ongoing development works of the country… We have noticed this in some other countries like Singapore and Malaysia,” he told Arab News.
The country was not moving forward toward a sustainable democracy, he added, it was moving with the spirit of developments.