Britain on Monday said polls that saw Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned to power for a fifth term did not meet the standard of free and fair elections.
“Democratic elections depend on credible, open, and fair competition. Respect for human rights, rule of law and due process are essential elements of the democratic process,” the former colonial power’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said.
“These standards were not consistently met during the election period.
Hasina, the 76-year-old leader of the Awami League party, has dismissed the opposition’s criticism of Sunday’s ballot as “illegitimate”.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which has seen its ranks diminished by mass arrests, refused to participate in the election.
BNP head Tarique Rahman, speaking from Britain where he lives in exile, called the result “a disgrace to the democratic aspirations of Bangladesh”.
The BNP and other parties and other parties staged months of protests last year demanding Hasina step down ahead of the vote.
Around 25,000 opposition cadres including the BNP’s entire local leadership were arrested in the ensuing crackdown, the party says. The government puts the figure at 11,000.
The foreign ministry in London said it was “concerned” by the significant number of arrests of opposition party members before polling day.
“We condemn the acts of intimidation and violence that took place prior to and during the campaign period. Such conduct has no place in political life,” it added.