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Bangladesh PM to meet opposition which still rejects poll results

Bangladesh PM to meet opposition which still rejects poll results
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (R) shakes hand with the President Abdul Hamid during oath taking ceremony as the country's Prime Minister in Dhaka, Bangladesh, January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain   -   Copyright  MOHAMMAD PONIR HOSSAIN(Reuters)
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By Serajul Quadir

DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who won her third straight term in an election last month marred by allegations of rigging, will “soon” meet opposition leaders who have so far boycotted parliament after rejecting the vote result.

“The prime minister said in our internal party meeting that she would invite the political parties and seek their cooperation to develop this country,” Information Minister Hasan Mahmud told Reuters on Monday.

Hasina’s ruling alliance won more than 90 percent of the seats contested amid accusations of ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and violence that killed at least 19 people. The government has repeatedly denied the charges.

All the eight opposition members, including six from the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) whose chairwoman is in jail on what the party calls trumped-up corruption charges, have yet to be sworn in.

Abdul Awal, a BNP vice chairman, said his party would make a call on attending any meeting only after receiving a formal letter on Hasina’s behalf.

He added that a similar meeting before the election was not “pleasant”, and that they would continue to press for an independent investigation into the allegations of vote manipulation.

The United Nations this month called for an independent and impartial investigation into the Dec. 30 election, while Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, have condemned the election-day violence and called for an investigation into a range of irregularities.

(Reporting by Serajul Quadir; Editing by Krishna N. Das)

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