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Sheikh Hasina sworn in as Bangladesh PM

Sheik Hasina has been sworn in as Bangladesh's prime minister for a third term. Her party crusied to victory in deadly elections that were boycotted by the opposition.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina was sworn into office on Sunday, a week after her ruling Awami League party won a resounding victory in an election in which fewer than half the seats were contested.

In a ceremony broadcast live on television, the 64-year-old Hasina took the oath before President Abdul Hamid at the presidential palace in the capital, Dhaka.

"I am, Sheikh Hasina, taking oath ... that I will discharge my duties faithfully as the prime minister of the government as per the law," said Hasina, who is entering her second consecutive term in office, third overall.

Her 48-member cabinet was also sworn into office during the ceremony.

Hasina has insisted that her party's landslide victory in the polls was legitimate, even though the vote was boycotted by the opposition and its allies. The Awami League won nearly 80 per cent of votes cast.

Worst-ever violence

The poll saw the worst election violence in the country's history, with at least 26 people killed and dozens of polling stations torched or trashed. The opposition and its allies boycotted the elections after the government refused to accede to demands that a caretaker administration oversee the poll.

The opposition has since Wednesday called for a blockade of roads, rail and waterways to try to topple the government, in a continuation of protest actions that have left around 180 people dead since October and cost an estimated $4 billion (2.9 billion euros) in lost production.

The leader of the opposition Bangladesh National Party, two-time former Prime Minister Khaled Zia, has called the polls a "scandalous farce" and demanded new elections under a neutral government.

Zia, who has been under de facto house arrest, was allowed to leave her home in Dhaka late on Saturday for the first time in two weeks to attend a meeting. It is unclear if her house arrest has been completely lifted.

The political crisis has plunged Bangladesh deeper into turmoil and economic stagnation, and could lead to more violence in the deeply impoverished country of 160 million.

tj/pfd (AFP, Reuters)

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