US expects participatory polls; backs no party: Bernicat

US expects participatory polls; backs no party: Bernicat

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Outgoing US Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat on Tuesday reiterated that they are not supporting anybody in particular but supporting the democratic process in Bangladesh.

“The United States is not supporting any particular candidate, party and coalition. We’re supporting the democratic process and values,” she told reporters at her farewell press conference at the EMK Center in the city. Bernicat said the US looks forward to government of Bangladesh fulfilling its commitment and statement it has made to hold free, fair, credible and participatory polls that reflect the will of Bangladeshi people.

“To do so, political parties must be free to participate in the political process without intimidation and without fear of arrest,” said the US diplomat who enjoyed the longest stay in Bangladesh during her 37 years career.In order to hold credible elections, she said, there must be a credible opposition that is able to act as a political party.

Expressing optimism about the outcome of political dialogue, Bernicat encouraged dialogue at every level, not only at the high level. Earlier, the US Ambassador met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam separately.

After her meeting with Minister Ali at the State Guest House Padma, Bernicat expressed her optimism about the political process in Bangladesh as a dialogue between the government and the newly formed Jatiya Oikkofront led by Dr Kamal Hossain is set to take place on Thursday evening.

“I’m optimistic,” she said. The US Ambassador, however, said it is up to the people of Bangladesh to decide. “We the citizen in the democracy has every responsibility to demand our government to give us conditions to choose anyone to lead us.”

All political parties must be allowed to hold peaceful rallies for ensuring a credible election in the country, Bernicat said.The US envoy laid emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions and governance structure for the future success of Bangladesh. Talking about Bangladesh-US relations during her tenure, Bernicat said, “We have enhanced the partnership.”

Appreciating Bangladesh’s progress and attainment of all three criteria to graduate from LDC she said, “It’s a great achievements.” The US envoy appreciated Bangladesh’s generosity for hosting large number of Rohingyas. She encouraged both Bangladesh and Myanmar to continue working together with the international community.

Bernicat said the US supports voluntary return of Rohingyas to their place of origin and sought steps so that Rohingyas can live freely and safely without any restriction. Asked about her Bangladesh experience, Bernicat who is likely to leave here for Washington next month, said, “I’m departing with great sense of satisfaction.”

source: UNB

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