Bangladesh’s governing party celebrated its victory in general elections on Monday, dismissing critics who said the vote’s legitimacy was undercut by violence, low turnout and the absence of the country’s main opposition force from the ballots. The party, the Awami League, won 232 of the 300 seats in Bangladesh’s new Parliament, about half of the victors unopposed. Partial results published by Bangladesh’s Election Commission put the average turnout on Sunday at 39.8 percent, though that figure appeared to have been padded by an influx of pro-government activists who arrived at polling stations shortly before they closed. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, receiving journalists in her home on Monday, put the blame on the main opposition force, the Bangladesh National Party, which boycotted the election and carried out a campaign to discourage turnout. Some observers had hoped that the poor results would force the warring parties to negotiate a new, more inclusive round of elections. But Mrs. Hasina took a tough tone on Monday, saying she would not enter talks unless the opposition first renounced violence.
“Today, democracy is tainted by the blood of innocent people and soaked by the tears of burned people, who have fallen victim to the violent political program that is hitting the nation’s conscience,” she said. She added she had ordered the army to “curb any post-poll terrorism and violence with iron hands.”
At least 22 people were killed on Sunday, in some cases when police officers opened fire on opposition activists. Another seven people were killed in clashes on Monday, Bangladeshi news media reported.
After preventing it earlier, the authorities allowed a reporter from The New York Times to interview the opposition leader, Khaleda Zia, in the house where she has been confined since Dec. 29. Mrs. Zia called Sunday’s vote a “farcical election” and said she believed that turnout had been closer to 10 percent.