DHAKA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who was today re-elected unopposed as the ruling Awami League's president, asked cadres to reach out to the people to ensure that the party is returned to power for a third successive term.
Addressing the party's National Council, she said, "Awami League must come back to power to take the nation forward towards its goal of becoming a poverty-free nation." The Awami League came to power in December 2008 polls and returned to power in the January 2014 polls for a second successive term.
Hasina, 69, began addressing the councillors' session by stressing on the next national elections. "The polls are coming... For a third win, we need to reach out to the people and tell them about the development done during our tenure," she said. "We need to make the people realise that Awami League in power would ensure socio-economic development," she said.
Hasina said she wants "honesty" among party activists. "As long as I am alive, I want to elect a leader to strengthen the party," she said. But that evoked a negative reaction from the councillors who said "No, no".
Hasina, who has been heading the Awami League since 1981, had said recently that she would be "happy" to retire given the opportunity and if the party manages to find a new leader.
Awami leaders, however, insist that there's no alternative to Hasina, bdnews24.com reported. She has made it clear that the council will elect the next batch of leaders, but party leaders are depending on her to make decisions. Hasina said that the party is her family. "Awami League is family, my dearest one. I have not given as much time to my children as I have to the party."
Earlier, the Awami League re-elected Hasina as president while Obaidul Quader has been made the new general secretary for the next three years. This was the eighth time Hasina, eldest daughter of Bangladesh's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was elected as the Awami League chief as she became the longest serving president of the party founded in 1949.
Election Commissioner Yousuf Hossain Humayun declared her reelected as nobody contested. The councillors then went on to nominate the Presidium members. "The next general election must be unquestionable," Hasina said referring to controversies over the last election which the opposition BNP boycotted.
The five-year term of the ruling Awami League will end in 2019. Despite being invited BNP leaders did not join the opening session of the League's two-day council yesterday but today its Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir welcomed Hasina and Quader as they were elected president and general secretary of the party.