What’s next after PM Sheikh Hasina’s reelection?

Sultan Mohammed Zakaria, a Bangladesh expert at Amnesty International, pointed out that the US has already taken steps to put pressure on Dhaka over human rights violations. “The US has responded by imposing sanctions on Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and enforcing visa restrictions on individuals accused of undermining democracy,” he said.

But, he added, that the measures have so far had little impact. “Despite these measures, the election was held and widely criticized, indicating that the current Western strategy may not be effective,” Zakaria said.

Hasina says the economy is her focus

Hasina said on Monday that Bangladesh’s economic development was her main aim in the next five years. “Each political party has the right to take a decision. The absence of one party in an election does not mean democracy is absent,” Hasina told reporters.

Hasina is often credited with presiding over Bangladesh’s impressive growth in recent years. But the country’s economy is currently facing an array of problems. The prices of food and fuel have been surging, threatening to push many Bangladeshis back into poverty. At the same time, foreign exchange reserves have dropped to less than three months’ worth of imports.

The garment industry, which is crucial to Bangladesh’s economy accounting for around 85 per cent of its $55 billion (€50.2 billion) in annual exports, has witnessed a wave of labor protests.

“So far, there are no signs that the Awami League government will be able to tackle the economic situation. If it was able to curb the price hike of essentials, it would most likely have done so before the elections to gain popular support and, thereby, improve the electoral turnout,” Lorch said.

“If the economic situation of large parts of the population does not improve, the government might face social unrest, especially if the opposition joins in and increasingly mobilizes around social demands.”

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