The United States called upon the Bangladesh government to uphold commitment to maintain a democratic process to allow people to exercise their franchise freely and peacefully in the general elections set for December 30.
In the lead up to any democratic election there must be space for peaceful expression and assembly; for independent media to do its job covering electoral developments; for participants to have access to information; and for all individuals to be able to partake in the electoral process without harassment, intimidation, or violence, Robert Palladino, deputy spokesperson of the US Department of State, said in Washington on Friday. The US stressed the need that the government of Bangladesh would uphold its commitment to a democratic process by ensuring all Bangladeshis are free to peacefully express themselves and participate in December 30 election, he said. The Department of State official also said it was disappointed by the inability of the Bangladesh government to grant credentials and issue visas within the timeframe necessary to conduct a credible international monitoring mission to the majority of international election monitors from the Asian Network for Free Elections, which the United States funded through the National Democratic Institute. As a result, ANFREL was forced to cancel its observation mission for the December 30 national election, he said. The lack of an international observation mission makes it even more important for the government of Bangladesh to complete the accreditation of all the local NGOs that constitute the Election Working Group, which includes some funded by USAID, so they can conduct the vital work of monitoring the election. The US ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Robert Miller on Saturday said all political parties should be free to participate in the electoral process and a peaceful environment would encourage everyone to participate in the polls. Violence would hinder democratic process, he said on Friday evening at the concluding session of inter-university debate organised by Dhaka University Debating Society at Teacher-Student Center of the University of Dhaka. Earlier on December 12, the US House of Representatives adopted a resolution seeking Bangladesh political leaders and judicial authorities to respect the will of the voters and to ensure that all Bangladeshis would be able to participate freely in the process with making the December 30 polls impartial and inclusive. The US Congress also called upon the Bangladesh government to respect freedom of speech and of the press and to heed the Bangladesh Election Commission s request to ensure security for minorities and maintain communal harmony for a peaceful election. When asked about the calls of the US Congress urging Bangladesh authorities for arranging a free, impartial and inclusive polls, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute vice-president Humayun Kabir told New Age, They can make requests. But it is up to us to what extent we would respond to the calls. The way things are playing out, Kabir, also a former Bangladesh ambassador to the US, said, it is not yet certain if the voters will be able to participate in a process to make an informed choice. Voters required a free environment and adequate information on who are the candidates to exercise their voting rights properly, he said, adding, it is yet to be certain if they will get a free environment for an inclusive polls. Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad raised question about the intention of the US authorities in adopting a resolution setting criterion for elections in a foreign country. Why they have become hyperactive about our polls and took a resolution on election in another country when their president (Donald Trump) himself raises question about their own (US) electoral process, Faiz, a former Bangladesh ambassador to China, said. Bangladesh people want to make the polls free and fair with correcting their own mistakes , he said, adding that, expectations should be realistic as nothing can be achieved overnight