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Bangladesh’s economic gains marred by plunge into autocratic rule

“Ever since Bangladesh became an independent state in 1971, its political life has suffered several types of seemingly endemic conflict, some of it associated with periodic outbursts of violence or prolonged and relatively low-key armed confrontations. Currently, Bangladesh has an ‘abnormal crisis’ – political violence and widespread harassment of opponents that has shaken its democratic foundations. Sitting Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sealed a third straight term in office after taking 288 of the 300 seats contested in Sunday’s poll. But the result was labeled ‘farcical’ by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies because of rampant arrests and killing of rivals, plus alleged vote rigging. While the Sheikh Hasina government has presided over remarkable economic growth and infrastructural development, and should enjoy broad support for that, the current situation is less rosy. Odhikar, a Bangladesh-based rights organization, said that as many as 449 people were killed in ‘crossfires’ – a local term for extrajudicial killings – in 2018. Meanwhile, media outlets were shackled via a new digital security law. However, Hasina has achieved a great deal while in power. Over the past decade, the economy has grown on average 6.3% a year under her rule. And in recent years, the rate of growth has matched or exceeded that of both India and Pakistan. The country has attracted $42 billion in Chinese investment. Childhood mortality rates have been slashed, from 43 deaths per 1,000 live births to 26, while fertility rates have fallen and school attendance has risen by more than 10%. In sum, Bangladesh has enjoyed better living standards under Hasina’s time in office, while also enduring a rise in authoritarianism and an erosion of democratic governance.”

Source: Bangladesh’s economic gains marred by plunge into autocratic rule – Asia Times

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