Western powers on Tuesday condemned election day violence in Bangladesh and described a range of other irregularities that marred a vote in which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s alliance secured more than 90 percent of parliamentary seats. The strongly-worded assessments from the UK, European Union, and United States could hit the image of Hasina, who won a third straight term to power following Sunday’s election. Hasina’s opponents have rejected the election result, citing what they describe as widespread rigging and voter intimidation. She has denied impropriety, calling it a peaceful vote that saw enthusiastic participation from her supporters. The capital Dhaka was quiet on Tuesday, but the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said its workers were being attacked in several areas elsewhere in the country by activists of the Awami League – charges the party denied.
“Violence has marred the election day, and significant obstacles to a level playing field remained in place throughout the process and have tainted the electoral campaign and the vote,” the EU said in a statement, calling for “a proper examination of allegations of irregularities”.
The United States, Bangladesh’s largest foreign investor, expressed concern about “credible reports of harassment, intimidation, and violence in the pre-election period that made it difficult for many opposition candidates and their supporters to meet, hold rallies, and campaign freely.”