Bangladesh. The domestic policy in Bangladesh was
characterized by the fact that 2018 was an election year.
The December 30 election became a triumph for the ruling
Awami League and its allies, which took home 288 of the 300
seats, according to preliminary figures. This meant a third
consecutive term for Prime Minister Sheik Hasina. Election
Day became troubled with at least 16 dead in various acts of
violence, despite over 600,000 outlawed police and soldiers.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had previously rejected
demands from the opposition, including the main rival
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (GDP) and its support parties,
that a transitional government should lead the country
before the election. A similar requirement was rejected in
2014. GDP boycotted the election. Transitional governments
have appeared in previous elections.
The opposition claimed that electoral fraud occurred and
that voters were threatened. Several opposition candidates
also withdrew, but the Election Commission rejected the
re-election requirements. The EU, the United States and the
UN urged that whaling claims be investigated.
Countryaah.com, GDP leader Khaleda Zia's legal setbacks continued. In
February, she was sentenced to five years in prison for
embezzlement of the equivalent of $ 250,000 to a foundation
for orphans. The verdict triggered protests. At the end of
October, the sentence was sharpened to ten years. In another
corruption case, she received seven years. The BNP was
critical, claiming the judges were political when they
stopped her candidacy.
Her son, Tarique Rahman, was sentenced in another trial
to life for participating in a grenade attack in 2004
against a party meeting led by Sheikh Hasina, then
opposition leader. More than 20 people were killed. Rahman,
who lives in exile in London, has led the party in his
mother's absence. Nineteen other co-accused were sentenced
In October, GDP decided to form a broader alliance with
several smaller secular parties in an attempt to challenge
the Awami League. The alliance, the Jatiya Oikya Front, is
led by Kamal Hossain, a lawyer and former Foreign Minister.
The Election Commission later announced that Islamist
Jamaat-e-Islami, with which BNP previously collaborated,
must not stand.
During the ten years of Hasina's tenure in power, the
economy has continued to grow and the proportion of poor has
decreased while literacy has increased. Growth was around
7.9% for the financial year 2017-18, which ended last June.
The World Bank urged the government to create more jobs
through more private investment. Exports also need to be
diversified. Teko products dominate. The country needs to
continue to expand its infrastructure and electricity
In September, the government announced that the statutory
minimum wage in the textile industry would be raised by 51%
in December following negotiations with factory owners and
trade unions. The unions felt that this was insufficient.
The factory owners were also doubtful. The last minimum wage
was raised in 2013.
The pressure on individual organizations, the media and
opposition persisted. A law was passed in September that
gives the authorities the right to block information on the
Internet that damages the country's unity, religious values
or spreads hatred. Media houses and human rights groups felt
that the law was intended to silence critical voices.
Authorities turned down student protests that broke out
in July after two young students were killed in the capital,
Dhaka. The protests were directed not only at road safety
shortcomings but also against corruption and the
government's rule. Award-winning photographer and activist
Shahidul Alam was released on bail in November after 102
days in custody after speaking about the student protests in
a TV interview. These statements were considered false by
The elite police force RAB (Rapid Action Battalion)
launched a contentious campaign against drug leagues in May.
About 200 people were killed and more than 21,000 arrested.
Members of the UN Security Council, the UN chief, the UN
refugee commissioner and the World Bank chief visited
refugee camps around the city of Cox's Bazar, which houses
over 700,000 refugees from Burma's Muslim minority,
Rohingya, during the year. Bangladesh and Burma negotiated
how the refugees would return and agreed on an agreement in
October. But in November, the Dhaka government announced
that the plan would be delayed and that no one should be
sent back to Burma by force, a message that was welcomed by
UN agencies and human rights groups.