'British taxpayers will continue to hand over £200 million in aid to Bangladesh, despite fears the country’s government rigged last week’s election to stay in power, a Foreign Office Minister has said.
The UK’s mammoth aid package includes £16 million for the ‘Strengthening Political Participation’ project, intended to boost ‘locally led election observation and support civil society to demand more accountable politics’.
On polling day, 17 people were killed in clashes, hundreds of opposition officials were arrested, ballot boxes were tampered with and a mother of four was gang-raped as punishment for voting against the government.
Britain, the EU and US are all calling for an investigation after the incumbent Awami League party led by Sheikh Hasina, 71, claimed a third term in office after taking 288 of the country’s 298 parliamentary seats with 96 per cent of the vote.
Britain’s Minister for Asia and the Pacific, Mark Field, said he deplored the acts of intimidation and unlawful violence, and was ‘deeply concerned’ by the incidents that led to so many deaths on polling day.
But he said Britain has a ‘broad and important partnership’ with Bangladesh and its 160 million population, with significant numbers living in the UK. He pledged to ‘continue to support the people of Bangladesh in their aspirations for a more stable, prosperous and democratic future’.
The £16 million paid out to boost democracy in Bangladesh goes to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to ‘reduce political violence and manage peaceful cross-party debate’ and to other initiatives to strengthen governance in the country.'
Read more: Britons 'will continue to hand over £200million in aid to Bangladesh' - despite fears country's government rigged elections to stay in power
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