UN, Commonwealth call for fresh poll as Sheikh Hasina readies to form government
The United Nations termed the victory of Sheikh Hasina as “unacceptable” in view of the widespread violence that rocked the country during polls with more opposition leaders arrested on Tuesday.
In Sunday’s violence marred polls, boycotted by the main opposition Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and its allies, Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League bagged 232 of the 300 seats indicating a clear mandate to form the government.
Condemning Bangladesh poll violence in strong terms, “Violence is not an acceptable element of the political process. 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,” said Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson of the State Department, Monday.
“Obviously, we believe going forward things should be done very differently,” she said adding that Bangladesh still has a chance to have a different future. Harf further noted, the results declared by Bangladesh’s Election Commission “do not appear to credibly express the will of the Bangladeshi people” as more than half of the seats were uncontested and the rest offered only token opposition.
“While it remains to be seen what form the new government will take, United States commitment to supporting the people of Bangladesh remains undiminished. To that end, 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, reflecting the will of the Bangladeshi people,” Harf added.
The UN and the Commonwealth also condemned poll violence in Bangladesh in severe terms. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said violence during the Bangladesh parliamentary elections was “unacceptable” and appealed to political parties to urgently initiate meaningful dialogue.
“He regrets that the parties did not reach the kind of agreements which could have produced a peaceful, all-inclusive election outcome,” a UN statement said Monday.
“It is critical that Bangladesh moves quickly to find a path forward through dialogue to a more inclusive and peaceful political process in which the will of the people can be fully expressed,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma in a statement while terming the polls as “disappointing” due to limited participation and “deeply troubling and unacceptable” acts of violence.Sheikh Hasina however asserted, the elections were free and fair and offered an olive branch to the BNP and its allies, hinting that re-elections could be held after an amicable, acceptable settlement was reached between all parties and the Awami League.
Meanwhile, reports from Dhaka said, at least three BNP leaders including Khaleda Zia’s advisor Khandker Mahbub Hossain were arrested Tuesday. Two other BNP leaders, organising secretary Fazlul Haque Milon and Nazimuddin Ahmed, were arrested in Dhaka around 3.30pm, reported bdnews24.com.
Earlier Tuesday, police arrested BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s advisor and bar council vice chairman Khandker Mahbub Hossain the moment he came out from an event at the National Press Club in the Bangladesh capital.