comments_image Comments

US slams Bangladesh poll, calls for 'credible' vote

Bangladeshi supporters of a election candidate wait outside a polling station to hear the results in Dhaka on January 5, 2014
Bangladeshi supporters of a election candidate wait outside a polling station to hear the results in Dhaka on January 5, 2014

The United States expressed disappointment Monday after Bangladesh's elections were marred by bloodshed, and called for a new vote that would "credibly express the will" of the people.

"The United States is disappointed by the recent parliamentary elections in Bangladesh," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, amid electoral violence in the South Asian nation.

"With more than half of the seats uncontested and most of the remainder offering only token opposition, the results of the just-concluded elections do not appear to credibly express the will of the Bangladeshi people," she said.

"While it remains to be seen what form the new government will take... we encourage the government of Bangladesh and opposition parties to engage in immediate dialogue to find a way to hold as soon as possible elections that are free, fair, peaceful, and credible."

Harf condemned "the violence from all quarters that continues to mark the prevailing political impasse" and urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami League to reach out to its main rival, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

"Violence is not an acceptable element of the political process. We call on all to stop committing further violence," she said.

"Bangladesh's political leadership -- and those who aspire to lead –- must do everything in their power to ensure law and order and refrain from supporting and fomenting violence, especially against minority communities, inflammatory rhetoric, and intimidation."

Sunday's elections were the most violent in Bangladesh's post-independence history, with at least 26 people killed.

The Awami League cruised to victory after the BNP and 20 other opposition parties refused to take part in the vote over fears the contest would be rigged.

Hasina insisted on Monday that her walkover win was legitimate, and made clear she was not in the mood to offer any olive branches to BNP leader Khaleda Zia.