[JURIST] The Bangladesh Election Commission (BEC) [official website] on Tuesday released results [BEC materials] for the country's Monday elections, in which voters elected Sheikh Hasina [AP profile] as prime minister and members of her Bangladesh Awami League [party website] party as 228 of the country's 300 parliamentary representatives. The elections, which end two years of military rule in the country, were said to be generally fair and democratic by both domestic and international [EU mission materials] monitoring groups. In a release [text] on their observation of the elections, advocacy group International Republican Institute (IRI) [advocacy website] praised the results as "accurately [reflecting] the will of Bangladeshi voters," despite some irregularities:
The delegation was particularly impressed with the dedication of the millions of Bangladeshi voters who stood patiently in line to exercise their civic rights and to participate in the political process. At the polling stations observed by IRIs teams, the process appeared organized and calm, and election officials were generally knowledgeable about election law. Though observers noted many procedural irregularities they did not believe them of the scope and severity that would call into question the legitimacy of the process or outcome.The US State Department also praised [press release] the elections. Despite urging by monitoring groups, members of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party [party website], including former prime minister Khaleda Zia [UN profile], have challenged [BBC report] results from 220 polling stations. A spokesperson for the BEC said it will investigate the allegations of forgery, ballot tampering, and other violations of the country's election laws [BEC materials].
Earlier this month, interim Bangladeshi president Iajuddin Ahmed [official profile] signed [JURIST report] the Emergency Powers (Repeal) Ordinance of 2008, lifting a two-year state of emergency to allow for political campaigning. The state of emergency, declared in January 2007 [JURIST report], had suspended democratic rights throughout the country. The state of emergency had been briefly lifted in November, but was reinstated [JURIST report] following violent protests after Jamaat-e-Islami [party website] party leaders were arrested on corruption charges. In June, Hasina was indicted on charges [JURIST reports] that she received approximately $440,000 in illegal kickbacks on a power-plant deal during her earlier term as prime minister between 1996 and 2001.