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9 May, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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All parties to contest next polls, hopes EU

‘Govt engagement with Hefazat a positive sign’
DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT
All parties to contest next polls, hopes EU

European Union ambassador to Bangladesh Pierre Mayaudon yesterday expressed his optimism that all the political parties will participate in the next general election scheduled to take place at the end of 2018 or early 2019, as free, fair and inclusive polls are important pillars of democracy. While interacting with a group of journalists on the occasion of Europe Day on May 9, he also said that the engagement of the Bangladesh government with Hefazat-e-Islam is a positive aspect, but pointed out that terms and conditions related to the engagement will have to be looked at.
The envoy also said that in Bangladesh, there are issues related to democracy and human rights which are two important pillars of the cooperation agreement between Dhaka and Brussels and very much related to the  EBA (Everything But Arms) privilege Bangladesh enjoys to 28 EU member states.
“It (the national election) is either at the end of 2018 or early 2019. The European Union has a universal agenda that leads us to consider free, fair and inclusive elections as the pillars of democracy,” ambassador Mayaudon said, adding that the EU fervently hopes that the next election will be held following this criteria.
“We noted some important steps already taken to set the legal framework for the next elections especially the appointment of the new election commission,” he said. Referring to his meeting with the chief election
commissioner, the envoy said, “I must say I felt very encouraged by the exchange.”
“Last February, at the diplomatic dialogue between Dhaka and Brussels, our policy makers have already informed that the EU will be much willing to send to Bangladesh an EU election observation mission in the context of the next general election,” he said.
“I cannot enter into any analysis as to who will participate, why and all that. What I can be very strong and clear is that we wish that all political forces in this country will participate in the election obviously to make it as inclusive as possible,” Mayaudon said.
“I am confident that there have been some lessons learnt from previous 2014 election,” he added.
A free, fair and inclusive poll will certainly lead to proper opportunity for all the citizens to express their opinion, said the ambassador.
“Otherwise, there will be a risk that growing number of citizens will be disfranchised, which can threaten political, social and overall stability of any country. So, we, as friend and partner of Bangladesh, don’t want to see that happen in your country and we are confident that will not happen,” he said.
To a question regarding the government’s engagement with Hefazat and floating of a new alliance by Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad, Mayaudon, without naming any names, said, “It is for the country’s civil society to comment.”
“Of course we observe very closely the steps taken by political parties or actors. My take is that I think it is important to have an inclusive society. An inclusive society rallies consensual objectives, bringing forward the socio economic agenda,” he said.
“No quarter or segment of a population should be left aside.  If initiatives are taken to engage with the segment of a society, who otherwise would have been left aside, is positive. Also, we have to see how effective it is and under what terms and conditions these engagements take place,” said the ambassador.
“But, the overall intention, I think, is positive,” he said.    
Asked if he is happy with the democratic and human rights situation in Bangladesh, Mayaudon said that there are issues everywhere including his native country, France.
However, he said, “If I tell you I am happy you will not believe me. There are issues in Bangladesh. What is important that there is never a closed door in Bangladesh. We can discuss the issue with the government.”
“What is important to identify the issues and discuss. We are not here to lecture but to engage with everybody,” he added.
On Rohingya issue, the ambassador reiterated the EU’s position placing emphasis on addressing the ‘global crisis’ through providing the Rohingyas with full citizenship.
He said that China’s association in this issue is encouraging.  On the review of sustainability compact to be held in Dhaka on May 18, Mayaudon said that the third meeting of the compact established after the Rana Plaza tragedy will highlight three issues – labour rights, safety in workplace, and corporate social responsibility.
Bangladesh has made ‘fantastic progresses’ with regard to safety and rights, he said, adding that the growth should continue.
To a question, the envoy described the result of the French presidential election as a good news for the EU.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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