Washington, DC – The United States on Tuesday (Jan. 1) welcomed the holding of elections in Bangladesh, calling it “a positive development after the boycotted election of 2014.”
In a statement, Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson for the US State Department commended, “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.”
Palladino emphasized the importance the US placed on the Asian country noting, “The United States remains deeply invested in the future of Bangladesh and its democratic development. The United States is Bangladesh’s largest foreign investor, largest single-country market for Bangladeshi exports, and home to a large community of Americans of Bangladeshi origin.”
With so much at stake, Palladino expressed the US concern over, “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.” “We are also concerned that election-day irregularities prevented some people from voting, which undermined faith in the electoral process,” he added.
Strongly encouraging “all parties to refrain from violence,” the statement requested, “the Election Commission work constructively with all sides to address claims of irregularities. Bangladesh’s impressive record of economic development and respect for democracy and human rights are mutually reinforcing, and we look forward to continue working with the ruling government and opposition towards advancing these interrelated goals.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured her third consecutive term with a landslide victory in an election marred by violence. Her party and its allies won almost all of the 300 parliamentary seats contested.
With the opposition alliance winning just seven seats, there was widespread condemnation that the vote was “farcical”, marred by violence, intimidation and claims of vote rigging.
Election authorities, however, ruled out any re-run. Although the election commission preliminarily had accepted hearing about vote-rigging allegations from “across the country” and indicated it would investigate, the commissioner later called the voting peaceful and hence decided against holding a new vote.
Bangladesh’s parliament has 350 seats in total, 50 of which are reserved for women and allotted proportional to the overall vote.The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh gives the commonly known Parliament, the name Jatiyo Shangsad in Bengali and House of the Nation in English.