Bangladesh PM insists re-election legitimate

DHAKA - Bangladesh's prime minister insisted Monday that her re-election in polls boycotted by the opposition was legitimate and said her rivals must shun "terrorist activities" before she would talk to them.

The boycott by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party should "not mean there will be a question of legitimacy", said Sheikh Hasina, whose Awami League party won Sunday's vote by a landslide.

"People participated in the poll and other parties participated," Hasina told reporters in her first comments since the elections.

The BNP refused to take part in the polls after Hasina stonewalled their demands to stand aside and allow the elections to be organised by a neutral caretaker government.

But the prime minister said she had offered BNP leader Khaleda Zia the chance to join an interim cross-party government ahead of the vote.

"Look, I tried my best, I told you, I offered ministry, I offered to share power with our opposition I have done as much as I can do but they didn't respond," she told foreign journalists at her official residence in Dhaka.

"Now if they realise that they made a mistake in not participating in the election, perhaps then they may come forward to discuss with us or make an offer," she added.

"If they come forward to discuss with us, they have to leave all these terrorist activities behind because what they are doing it is absolutely killing people, killing police, killing innocent people."

Sunday's vote was the most violent in Bangladesh's post-independence history, with police saying at least 26 were killed while hundreds of polling stations were attacked by opposition supporters.