Western nations, including the US and Britain, have cautiously welcomed the results of the Bangladesh election in which prime minister Sheikh Hasina stormed back to power for a third successive term despite opposition allegations of vote rigging and violence.
“The United States commends the tens of millions of Bangladeshis who voted in Bangladesh’s 11th parliamentary election on December 30, 2018, as well as the decision of all major opposition political parties to participate, a positive development after the boycotted election of 2014,” the US State Department said in a statement.
It said the US remained “deeply invested in the future of Bangladesh and its democratic development” since it was Bangladesh’s “largest foreign investor, largest single-country market for Bangladeshi exports, and home to a large community of Americans of Bangladeshi origin”.
“In this light, we note with concern 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,” the statement said.
Furthermore, it said, the US was also concerned that “election-day irregularities prevented some people from voting, which undermined faith in the electoral process”.
The UK also welcomed Bangladesh’s polls and pledged its continued support to the people of Bangladesh in their “aspirations to democracy” with Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, appreciating the participation of all opposition parties in the election.
“It is vital for the government and all political parties to now work together to address differences and find a way forward in line with the interests of the people of Bangladesh,” he said.
But he added that the UK was “aware of credible accounts of obstacles, including arrests that constrained or prevented campaigning by opposition parties, and of irregularities in the conduct of elections on polling day that prevented some people from voting”.
He “deplored” the acts of intimidation and violence that took place during the campaign period, saying “I am deeply concerned by the incidents that led to so many deaths on polling day”.
“I urge a full, credible and transparent resolution of all complaints related to the conduct of the election,” Field said.
The victory of Hasina, whose ruling Awami League is set to rule for the third consecutive term while she will be sworn in as premier for a record fourth time overall, was welcomed by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated her on winning the election.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also greeted Hasina on her reelection.
The UN also noted the poll results and called on all sides in Bangladesh to “exercise restraint” and “ensure a peaceful post-electoral environment,” where people can maintain their right to assembly and expression.