US expects fair polls in Bangladesh: Bernicat

US expects fair polls in Bangladesh: Bernicat

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Mentioning that they have no favourite party and political personality in Bangladesh, US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat on Wednesday said they just expect fair polls here.

“We hope to see election is fairly run and run well. We like other embassies are meeting different political parties, certainly the major two parties, to better understand the election condition here,” she said.

Bernicat further said, “The US government has no favoured party and it has no favoured political personage in Bangladesh. Who is elected to lead the government is the choice and the only entity of Bangladeshi people.”

She was talking to reporters after attending a civil rights panel discussion session at the EMK Center in the city’s Dhanmondi area.

The public affairs section of the US Embassy in Dhaka and the EMK Center jointly organised the programme, marking the African-American History Month.

Noting that what they care about is the process, the US envoy said, “We both are democratic parties. We have democratic rules and the fundamental basic of democracy is people who have the right to choose and change their government. So for us, it’s a matter of process. If the process is truly representative and fair, then you have the basis for stability.”

Bernicat further said, “It’s your job to choose the individuals and party to run your government.”

She said her country believes that democracy is the best foundation for stability and sustainable and strong economic development.

Asked about her observation over the next general election here when the top leader of a major party in jail, Bernicat said, “I’ve joined other voices who have called for a free, fair, credible and inclusive election.”

She disagreed with a journalist’s question that one party is unilaterally carrying out campaign for the next polls, and said both the parties have long been carrying out the campaign that will intensify in the months to come. “I know Bangladesh has an official campaign period.”

The US envoy focused on holding the next nation election in a peaceful manner as she said the elections here in the past were featured with violence. “Especially, people outside Dhaka are really fatigue of violence, mainly surrounding the elections.”

Bernicat thinks strong steps should be taken so that no one can create violence in the name of election, political process and religion to ensure a peaceful and fair election.

She also said a congenial atmosphere must be created so that voters can go to the polling stations and cast their votes on the voting day.

The US Ambassador said people’s ability to assemble peacefully for registering their protest, meet privately or ensuring the right of the candidates of any party to carry out the campaign is important for a fair election atmosphere. “If any party doesn’t have the ability to do that it’ll have an impact on the election.”

Besides, she said, if the candidates, including minorities, and women men, are intimidated not to file their candidature or engage in other election activities also will have impact on the election.

Referring to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s statement at her party’s national council that the next election will be held in a manner so that no one can raise question about, the US envoy believes the 11th parliamentary election will held in a credible manner maintaining the standard.

Turning to the Rohingya issue, she said this serious problem is not losing world attention as the international media are still giving focus and good coverage on the matter. “I don’t think international attention and support are going to fade regarding the Rohingya issue.”

Bernicat said her government and the international community are looking for ways to help improve the situation ad ensure the safe return of Rohingyas to their homes in Myanmar.

“Their (Rohingyas) desire is consistent that they want to go to their homes and their homes are in Myanmar. The world is working now to ensure their safe return in a dignified manner.”

The US envoy also said Bangladesh and its all friends are working to mount pressure on Myanmar to resolve the problem and create a situation so that Rohingyas can go to their homes.

Replying to a question, she said Washington’s designation of ‘ISIS-Bangladesh’ as foreign terrorists does not indicate the existence of terrorist outfit here. “The designation is not about saying ISIS is here…these groups have individuals who have declared or claimed their violent acts in the name of ISIS.”

The US envoy also said they have done it to strengthen the ability of their legal system and the government to investigate and prosecute people who are aiding and abetting terrorism.

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