Bangladesh. The Government Party Awami Federation
retained its strong grip on power after the election victory
at the end of 2018. The party and its allies then
strengthened their majority. According to
CountryAAH, Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as
prime minister in January. She is the first prime minister
to win three consecutive elections in the country's history.
She retained several ministerial portfolios, including
defense, and appointed a new finance minister.
The handful of members elected for the Bangladesh
Nationalist Party (GDP) opposition party ceased their
boycott of parliamentary work in April. Imprisoned GDP
leader Khaleda Zia's health continued to worry and the party
tried to get her free from bail to receive care abroad. She
is serving judgments for embezzlement and bribery, crimes
that her party believes are inventive.
In July, nine BNP leaders and supporters were sentenced
to death for a fire bomb attack in 1994 against a train that
Sheikh Hasina, then opposition leader, was traveling with.
Several people were then injured. Twenty-five other GDP
supporters received life imprisonment. The BNP Secretary
General considered that the judges were destined to crack
The Supreme Court confirmed on October 31 a death
sentence against ATM Azharul Islam, prominent member of the
opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami, for crimes during the
liberation war of 1971. He was sentenced in 2014 by the
criticized National Crime Tribunal, the International Crimes
Another notable verdict fell on October 24 when 16 people
were sentenced to death for burning a 19-year-old woman to
death. Nusrat Jahan Rafi had accused his principal of sexual
harassment and refused to take back the charges. The
government ordered 27,000 schools to form committees on
The Dhaka government reiterated the demand that over
700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled from Burma in 2017 must
return. In August, tens of thousands of Rohingya marked the
anniversary of the flight. No solution to the crisis was
aimed at. Bangladesh periodically shut down the internet in
the camps and the interior minister announced plans to set
up the barbed wire fence around the camps. The large amount
of refugees poses a potential security risk to the region,
Sheikh Hasina warned in several speeches, for example before
the UN General Assembly in September. Some 30 human rights
groups, including Amnesty International, welcomed in
November that Dhaka temporarily froze plans to send Rohingy
to an island in the Bay of Bengal with very little supply.
Bangladesh ranked 150th in Reporters Without Borders
Press Freedom Index, a loss of four rankings compared to
2018. This was an expression of the continued press on
individual organizations and independent media. The campaign
against drug leagues such as the police and the elite police
force RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) began in 2018 is believed
to have required 466 lives, according to Amnesty
International, which called for an investigation.
Economic growth continued to be strong. The Asian
Development Bank and the World Bank reported that it was
8.1% in 2019, a few percentage points above the average in
South Asia. In recent years, export of textiles has been
very important, as have agricultural and pharmaceutical
One challenge is that just over 40% of the labor force is
employed in agriculture, which accounts for 14% of GDP. But
access to fertile agricultural land is declining and climate
change is a real threat to the sector, according to the
Asian Development Bank.
Sheikh Hasina visited India in October and signed several
bilateral agreements, including on Indian law to use the
ports of Chittagong and Mongla. The opposition party GDP was
Cyclones, floods and disasters linked to climate change
were a threat to almost every third child in the country,
reports the UN Children's Fund UNICEF.
In recent years, readiness for cyclones has improved. In
November, 2 million people were evacuated before the
powerful cyclone Bulbul. The storm required twelve
casualties, while at least 30,000 homes, as well as rice
crops, were destroyed.
Former General and President Hussain Muhammad Ershad died
in July, aged 89. He ruled after a coup in 1982 until 1990,
when he was forced off by popular protests.