By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States shares the view that the weekend’s elections in Bangladesh were not free and fair, the U.S. State Department said on Monday, adding that Washington was concerned by reports of vote irregularities and condemned violence that took place.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina swept to a fourth straight term in power, with her party winning almost 75% of the seats in Sunday’s general election.
But the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) boycotted the vote and turnout was low.
“The United States remains concerned by the arrests of thousands of political opposition members and by reports of irregularities on elections day,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Monday.
“The United States shares the view with other observers that these elections were not free or fair and we regret that not all parties participated.”
The ruling Awami League party won 222 seats out of 298, according to unofficial results released by the Election Commission. The election was Bangladesh’s 12th since independence from Pakistan in 1971.
Rights groups have warned of a virtual one-party rule by Hasina’s Awami League in the South Asian country of 170 million people.
The daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founding father of Bangladesh, Hasina, 76, first became prime minister in 1996.
Hasina played down the opposition’s boycott and said her aim was to boost the economy.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)