POST TIME: 1 March, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 1 March, 2018 01:02:32 AM
US, UK for fair, inclusive polls

US, UK for fair, inclusive polls

The United States and United Kingdom yesterday laid emphasis on free, fair and participatory elections and noted that democracy is of paramount important for the development of the country. Washington and London also stressed that free and fair election is not only about the polling day but also a level-playing field for all in the run up to the day on which people should have the right to exercise their right to franchise.

US ambassador Marcia Bernicat and UK high commissioner Alison Blake were shedding lights on Bangladeshi politics in the lead up to the next parliamentary elections in two different programmes at two different venues.

“I had joined other voices that have called for free, fair, credible, participatory or inclusive election. I think all four those features are important,” US envoy Bernicat told a questioner at a briefing organised to mark the ‘Black History Month’ at the Edward Kennedy Centre in Dhanmondi.

While in a programme arranged to introduce new British deputy high commissioner and head of communication at the high commission’s staff amenities centre in Baridhara, UK chief of mission Blake also placed great emphasis on free, fair and participatory election and said that these are the most important aspects for the stability and prosperity of the country.

To a question, Bernicat said that her government does not favour any political party in

Bangladesh and that it is right of the people of the country to choose and change the government.

Voicing her opposition to any violence, she said that the country is going through a period of turmoil’ and that Washington cares about the whole election process that ensures an environment where political parties can campaign equally and people can cast their vote freely without any fear or intimidation.

The US ambassador recalled the statements of Sheikh Hasina in 2016 that the next general election will be above any question and said that she wants to stick to that.

To another question regarding a fear of using Rohingya crisis as an election card, she said that very possibly it will be used, but added that the protracted issue is much broader than a ‘political football’. Rohingya crisis is a long-term problem and it needs long-term support, Bernicat said, adding that the issue is not going to fade away from the international attention.

Responding to a question on designation of ISIS as terrorist group in Bangladesh, she said that designation of the terrorist outfit as a group does not mean to say that it exists in Bangladesh, but it states that it may have people who may work for it. The designation will help the legal system to deal with the issue in a better way, she added.

The ambassador revealed that Bangladesh is the first country that has started receiving $20 million worth funding from counterterrorism partnership fund that is and will be used in different sectors including community policing and cyber security.

She also informed that Lisa Curtis, deputy assistant to president and senior director for South and Central Asia at the White House, will visit Cox’s Bazar to have firsthand information about Rohingyas alongside other engagements.

Curtis, also a senior official of US national security council, will arrive tomorrow (Friday) and meet, among others, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Prime Minister’s Security Adviser Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique Tarique and Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque. Apart from emphasis on democracy, British high commissioner Blake expressed her country’s willingness to have more engagements with Bangladesh in different sectors after the UK gets out of the European Union.