A top official at an observer group that monitored Bangladesh’s election, as well as one of its foreign volunteers, have said they regret participating in the process, casting doubt on the credibility of a vote won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling alliance. The president of the SAARC Human Rights Foundation told Reuters he now believed there should be a fresh vote after hearing accounts from voters and officials presiding over polling booths that activists from Hasina’s Awami League stuffed ballot boxes the night before the poll and intimidated voters. “Now I have come to know everything, and can say that the election was not free and fair,” said Mohammad Abdus Salam, a 75-year-old former high court division justice.
A Canadian observer who was brought in by the foundation has also said she now wishes she had not been involved.
Bangladesh, which is an important supplier of clothing to major Western High Street brands and is the second-biggest garments exporter in the world behind China, had already faced criticism from European Union, United States, and British officials for irregularities observed during the polling.