Bangladesh's Hasina says to share power over Khaleda's criticism

"She (Khaleda) should accept the people's verdict," said Sheikh Hasina.

Bangladesh's Hasina says to share power over Khaleda's criticism

Former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said on Wednesday she was willing to share power with the disgruntled opposition after winning a massive majority in Bangladesh's parliamentary election this week.

Hasina said she was ready to offer senior parliamentary posts to her bitter political rival, Begum Khaleda Zia, and her party, although Khaleda has rejected the results of elections that returned the impoverished country to democracy after two years of emergency rule.

Khaleda, also a former prime minister, has alleged widespread fraud. That has raised fears of street protests by her supporters.

Speaking at her first post-election news conference, Hasina urged Khaleda to accept the results, adding she wanted her government to work with all sides to establish a new political culture in Bangladesh.

"As winners, we have to deal with everything with a sense of forgiveness and accommodation instead of vengeance, to take the country forward in cooperation with all irrespective of party affiliation," Hasina said.

"She (Khaleda) should accept the people's verdict. I am ready to work with everyone."

Hasina said was prepared to offer Khaleda and the opposition the post of deputy parliament speaker, among others in the legislature. Ministerial positions could also be given to the opposition if it was willing to cooperate with the government, she said.

Hasina's Awami League and its allies won more than two thirds of parliament's 300 seats in Bangladesh's first election in seven years on Monday. Khaleda's coalition took just 31 seats.

An army-backed interim government had suspended many political rights after cancelling an election in January 2007 amidst widespread political violence.

Hasina said she would focus on achieving economic goals and realising the "dreams of the younger generation".

Khaleda has given little indication of what action, if any, she might take. Her Bangladesh Nationalist Party had already complained on election night that its supporters were kept from voting in various parts of the country.

"We reject the election outcome," Khaleda said late on Tuesday.

In the past, opposition parties have often resorted to strikes and street protests that can turn violent -- and provide a rationale for intervention in government by the military.

No major unrest

Widespread protests have yet to happen this week, although scattered violence has broken out in the low-lying Indian Ocean nation of more than 140 million people.

One man was killed and about 150 people injured on Tuesday in clashes between rival political activists, a private television station reported.

Strong security, imposed before Monday's election, remained in place. The capital Dhaka appeared calm on Wednesday and a senior security official said there were no serious problems.

Hasina and Khaleda alternated in power during the 15 years up to 2006 in Bangladesh's personality-dominated politics. But many problems went unresolved, in part due to the protests, strikes and street violence by their parties when out of office.

Hasina has pledged to contain prices and promote growth in a country where 45 percent of the population live below the poverty line.

The Dhaka share market reacted favourably to the election results, rising more than two percent on Tuesday, partly on the view a Hasina administration would be good for business. The market was closed on Wednesday for a New Year's Eve holiday.

Reuters
Last Mod: 31 Aralık 2008, 12:40
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