December 30, 2008 / 12:16 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX - Bangladesh ex-PM Hasina looks set for second chance

(Reuters) - Sheikh Hasina, who served one term as Bangladesh’s prime minister before her Awami League was overwhelmingly defeated in 2001, won a second bite at the leadership in a Monday election, according to unofficial results.

The results showed an alliance of parties backing Hasina, 61, taking a better than two-thirds majority in the poll aimed at bringing the impoverished South Asian country of more than 140 million people back to democracy after two years under a military-backed interim government.

Here are some facts about Hasina’s political career:

DAUGHTER OF FOUNDING LEADER

* Hasina took over as Awami League chief after her father, Bangladesh’s founding leader and first president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was killed in an army coup in 1975 along with most members of their family.

* She led the Awami League to power in 1996, 21 years after Mujib’s death, and changed the party’s policy, focussing more on economic liberalisation than socialism.

SHOCK DEFEAT

* Hasina suffered a shock defeat by main rival Begum Khaleda Zia and her Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the 2001 general election, as Khaleda appealed to Islamist voters and criticised Hasina over the country’s foreign debt.

* Hasina escaped death in August 2004, when grenades were thrown at a rally she was addressing, killing 23 people. She suffered partial loss of hearing due to the blasts.

ELECTION BOYCOTT

* Hasina’s boycott of elections planned for January 2007 helped prompt an army-backed interim government to take power. It cancelled the vote and imposed emergency rule.

* She was arrested in July 2007 in the anti-graft drive launched by the interim government to cleanse the country’s corrupt politics. She was released on parole in June after nearly a year behind bars.

* Hasina returned home in early November, after getting medical treatment in the United States, to lead her party in the long-delayed election.

POLICIES

* Her past record suggests Hasina will take a relatively pro-business and pro-economic liberalisation approach, as well as aggressively pursue violent Islamist militants and resist efforts to make Bangladesh an Islamic state.

* However, in the economic area the impact of the global slowdown on Bangladesh, a major textile exporter, could limit her room to manoeuvre.

* She has promised to tackle corruption, a barrier to investment and aid, despite the charges against her on that score, which she denies.

Reporting by Ruma Paul; Writing by Anis Ahmed and Jerry Norton

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