The US has again expressed its disappointment over the irregularities in the city polls and said the focus must now be on a transparent investigation to ensure better polls in future.
“We were disappointed both by the irregularities and by the BNP’s boycott midway through the polls,” under secretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman, told journalists at a joint briefing on the US-Bangladesh partnership dialogue in Dhaka.
Sherman and her Bangladesh counterpart foreign secretary Md Shahidul Haque briefed the press at the end of a two-day fourth partnership dialogue at the State Guest House, Meghna.
The under secretary said the city polls also came up in the meeting where they discussed a whole range of bilateral, regional and global issues.
She said she also discussed it during her meeting with the Prime Minister on Thursday.
“I am very grateful that government is very forthright about what occurred, and now it’s going to set about ensuring improvements in the way forward,” she said.
“I think what everyone needs to focus on is to have transparent investigation of those irregularities and to set about making sure that next election is highly improved,” she said. “This is very important for democracy”.
She said they would remain focussed for “a long-term solution that accommodates all parties and allows the Bangladeshi people to peacefully express their views”.
The ruling Awami League-backed candidates swept fraud-marred Dhaka and Chittagong city polls on Apr 28.
Its main rival, the BNP, boycotted the elections halfway through the polling.
The UN, US, and the UK had earlier called for impartial investigations into the allegations of irregularities.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, however, said people rejected the BNP in what she described as a “free and fair” poll and but said the alleged irregularities would be investigated.
The international community had, earlier, called for a peaceful, inclusive and transparent election as it came just a few months after the anniversary of the violence-marred BNP-boycotted general elections held on Jan 5 last year.
But the BNP endorsed its candidates in the city polls, ending its marathon countrywide blockade to press for snap general elections.
The US under secretary said the Dhaka-Washington “partnership” was “broad and deep” and it not only benefits the two people, but also the global community.
“We think Bangladesh really has near-unlimited potentials to transform both itself and its region, and we are excited to be your strong partner in reaching that potential,” she said.
Bangladesh’s foreign secretary said the partnership dialogue was “constructive, and forward looking”.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Nisha Desai Biswal, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat, and senior officials of the Bangladesh foreign ministry were present.