British High Commissioner in Dhaka Alison Blake on Tuesday said they hope to see a ‘peaceful political process’ that will lead to a good election — free, fair and participatory — at the end of the day.
“We hope it (polls) will be as participatory, inclusive as possible. We won’t interfere in the internal political affairs of Bangladesh and so you won’t find me speculating about the politics or election outcomes,” she said.
The British High Commissioner made the remarks while addressing a DCABtalk at the Jatiya Press Club.
The Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) organised the programme under its flagship event ‘DCABtalk’. DCAB President Rezaul Karim Lotus and General Secretary Mahfuz Mishu also spoke on the occasion.
High Commissioner Blake said they believe strongly in ‘inclusive and participatory, free and fair’ elections.
“When our foreign secretary Boris Johnson, MP, met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali during his visit to Bangladesh in February, he stressed the importance of free and fair elections, a free media and affording political space to the opposition,” she said.
Blake said the UK, as one commonwealth partner to another, together with their international partners – The Commonwealth, EU and others – will continue to encourage a peaceful way forward, and encourage dialogue between all the political parties in Bangladesh.
The British High Commissioner made it clear that political parties in Bangladesh do not need friends to mediate. “Bangladeshi people can find a way. I’m confident. They don’t need friends to mediate. Way will be found.”
On Rohingya issue, she said the UK has been a leader in responding – in speed and scale – providing £59 million since August 25 to help meet urgent humanitarian needs.
“We’ve been working with Bangladesh. There’s more we can do. We’ll look at what we can do,” said High Commissioner Blake who visited Rohingya camps trice.
Describing the Rohingya crisis as very complex with set of issues, she said there is no ‘quick and easy’ solution.
The British envoy commended Bangladesh for its response to the influx of Rohingya last year and underlined their continuing commitment to keeping the international spotlight on the Rohingya crisis.
She pledged supporting Bangladesh in its humanitarian response and to the voluntary, safe and dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.
The British High Commissioner also laid emphasis on free press and society as the UK is committed to supporting democracy in Bangladesh.
Responding to a question on visa issue, she said shifting UK visa centre to New Delhi is part of global move but there is no change in terms of standard of visa decision making. “We remain open and welcoming. We do everything we can.”
High Commissioner Blake said next week the eyes of the Commonwealth look to the Summit in London which will bring together heads of government representing 53 independent member states.
She said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has agreed to speak at the Women’s Forum event ‘Educate to Empower’, girl’s education being an area where Bangladesh has made strong gains in recent decades.