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Hasina (and democracy) return to Bangladesh

This week's election ended two years of rule by a military-backed caretaker government.

Eager: Supporters of the Awami League sat under a portrait of party president Sheikh Hasina, waiting to congratulate her for her political alliance's landslide victory in this week's elections.

Saurabh Das/AP

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Bangladesh ended two years of rule by a military-backed caretaker government when it voted in a new government Tuesday.

An alliance led by former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League clinched a two-thirds majority in Parliament, trouncing her archrival Khaelda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The elections, postponed since January 2007 after months of political turbulence, had a 70 percent turnout rate. They are being hailed by civil rights groups as Bangladesh's return to democracy.

"People have spoken for a change for the better," says Prof. Mustafizur Rahman, executive director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a Dhaka-based think tank. "This is the start of a new era in Bangladesh."

The real test now, say analysts, is whether BNP supporters will accept their resounding defeat.

Bangladesh has witnessed violence in previous elections, which paralyzed life in the country and scared investors away from this impoverished nation of 144 million people.

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