The United States said Monday that Bangladesh’s election was not free or fair after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina secured a fifth term in a vote marked by an opposition boycott and mass arrests.
“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,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.
“The United States condemns violence that took place during elections and in the months leading up to it. We encourage the government of Bangladesh to credibly investigate reports of violence and to hold perpetrators accountable,” he said in a statement.
The statement echoes comment from former colonial power Britain but is at odds with regional power India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Hasina’s victory and the “successful” conduct of the polls.
Like India, the United States has also largely had a warm working relationship with Hasina, seeing her as pro-business and like-minded on opposing Islamist extremism, but Washington has not shied away from criticism on rights issues.
The State Department said it hoped to keep working with Bangladesh to “advance our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a veiled reference to countering the influence of China.
The State Department said it also hoped to work on “supporting human rights and civil society in Bangladesh, and to deepening our people-to-people and economic ties.”
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