Despite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s emphatic win in the recently conducted Bangladesh elections, some opposition parties have resorted to protests alleging misconduct and manipulation in the general elections. The UN has 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.
This after Sheikh Hasina’s arch rival Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) rejected the election results and has demanded fresh polls.
"The United Nations is aware of violent incidents and reports of irregularities in the Bangladesh general elections. We regret the loss of life and injuries sustained by candidates and voters during the electoral campaign and on election day," the UN Spokesperson's office said in a statement Monday.
The UN said that violence and attacks on people and property are not acceptable. "We encourage the parties to address electoral complaints in a peaceful manner and through legal means," the UN urged, adding that "violence and attacks on people and property are not acceptable," the statement said.
However, other countries are taking note of the accusations of irregularities in the conduct of elections and have called for an investigation into the claims. The United States, Bangladesh’s largest foreign investor, expressed concern about "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," it said.
Meanwhile, the European Union in a statement, called for "a proper examination of allegations of irregularities".
The UK's Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field echoed the concerns, saying he was "aware of credible accounts of obstacles, including arrests, that constrained or prevented campaigning by opposition parties. "I urge a full, credible and transparent resolution of all complaints related to the conduct of the elections," he said.
Atleast 17 people have been killed in post-election violence since the election results were declared. Opposition BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam said he was collecting reports of rigging to submit to the Election Commission to demand a fresh vote. The commission has already rejected that plea, but Islam said there is no other “alternative.”