Bangladeshi PM calls for dialogue amid controversial polls

Violence and killings mared Sunday's largely uncontested polls with the ruling Awami League winning by a walkover.

Bangladeshi PM calls for dialogue amid controversial polls

World Bulletin / News Desk

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon the opposition to shun “militant” and “war criminal” Jamaat-i Islami Party and take part in peaceful talks.

The ruling Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) president made her call at a press conference at her official residence in Dhaka on Monday, a day after the one-sided parliamentary elections that her party took in a sweep.

Sheikh Hasina dismissed the suggestions, raised by a foreign journalist during the meeting, that her country may face international economic sanctions after the elections.

The United States earlier raised doubts on the credibility of the polling, which it said failed to represent the will of the Bangladeshi people.

The European Union, the US, the UK, Russia and China did not send election observers to the country because of its one-sided nature.

On Sunday's elections, Bangladesh Awami League won 233 seats - including 127 unopposed - out of the 300 directly-elected seats in the Bangladeshi Parliament.

At least 16 people were killed during the voting, while post-election violence killed another four people identified as supporters of the opposition party Jatiya.

A fresh 48-hour countrywide general strike is underway across the country along with a road-rail-waterways blockade.

‘Cancel polls’

Meanwhile, main opposition leader and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia called upon the government to cancel the “farcical” elections and come to the consensus for holding free, fair and credible elections under a non-partisan caretaker government.

She said that people boycotted the elections so government has no ethical and constitutional right to remain in power.

The opposition leader’s statement came hours after PM Sheikh Hasina’s press conference.

Zia added that “the farcical election of January 5 proved that free, fair and credible elections cannot be possible without a non-party neutral government and election commission.”

Countrywide general strike underway

The strike is called by the BNP-led 18 party alliance that demands cancellation of the 10th parliamentary elections held on Sunday.

The presence of vehicles on the capital city was relatively thin on Monday morning while law enforcers were manning checkpoints.

Auto-rickshaws and rickshaws dominated the streets in the morning, with no long-route buses leaving or entering Dhaka.

US raises doubts on Bangladeshi elections

The US on Monday expressed disappointment in Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Bangladesh as it turned into a walkover for the ruling party amid an opposition boycott.

“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,” said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf in a statement released to the press.

Harf condemned violence “from all quarters” while adding that Bengali authorities and the opposition leadership “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.”

She called for dialogue between the parties "to find a way to hold as soon as possible elections that are free, fair, peaceful, and credible, reflecting the will of the Bangladeshi people."

Last Mod: 07 Ocak 2014, 09:55
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