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Bangladesh PM defiant after violent win

DHAKA, Bangladesh--Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina insisted Monday that her walkover win in an election boycotted by the opposition was legitimate and blamed her rivals for the unprecedented bloodshed on polling day.

In defiant comments the day after her re-election, Hasina accused the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party of making a mistake by shunning the vote and made clear she was not in the mood to offer any olive branches to BNP leader Khaleda Zia, her arch-enemy.

Hasina's ruling Awami League cruised to victory in Sunday's election after the BNP and 20 other opposition parties refused to take part over fears the contest would be rigged.

But although the landslide should allow Hasina to rule for another five years, the opposition says her victory lacks any credibility. It has called for new polls organized by a caretaker government to be held as soon as possible.

The boycott should “not mean there will be a question of legitimacy”, Hasina told foreign journalists at her official residence in Dhaka.

“People participated in the poll and other parties participated,” she added in reference to a handful of Awami League allies who did stand.

The BNP blames the government for the crisis after it refused demands for the election to be organized by a neutral caretaker administration as in previous years.

The prime minister said she had offered Zia — who has been under de facto house arrest for over a week — the chance to join an interim cross-party government before the vote.

“I offered to share power with our opposition, I have done as much as I can do but they didn't respond,” she said.

“Now if they realize 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.”

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