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Momen questions EC’s approval of locals as int’l observers

Momen questions EC’s approval of locals as int’l observers

DHAKA, Jan 31, 2020 (BSS) – Foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen today questioned the Election Commission’s role as it approved 28 Bangladeshi citizens, working in different foreign missions here, as international observer for tomorrow’s city polls.

“I have no idea how they (EC) did that,” he told reporters while visiting Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) here today to see the preparations for bringing back stranded Bangladeshi citizens from coronavirus-hit Wuhan city of China.

The foreign minister said as per the Bangladesh laws no Bangladeshi citizen can be assigned as international election observer here. “It’s violation of law … and it’s a standard in all countries,” he added.

The Election Commission yesterday approved as internal observers 74 persons, includes 46 foreigners and 28 Bangladeshis working here in 10 foreign missions of the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and the European commission.

“The international election observers must be non-Bangladeshi citizens… but unfortunately, the foreign missions here appointed their Bangladeshi staff as international observers,” Momen said.

Claiming that the foreign missions here took the decision after knowing the law, Momen said, “They (foreign mission) should be responsible and they should follow their code of conduct.”

When asked whether there is any option to turndown the approvals, the foreign minister said, “It is Election Commissions’ task … “they (EC) know better (what they should do)”.

Momen suggested that as the foreign missions here were apprised about the country’s law, they should not allow any of their local staff to work as international election observer tomorrow.

“We don’t have any objection, if they deploy their citizens as the international election observers … but not our nations (to do so),” he said.

The foreign minister said the government has no issue, if the diplomats here would like to meet with the opposition party leaders … “Only we say … don’t violate our laws.”

Earlier on Thursday, talking to newsmen, Momen hoped that the foreign diplomats here would follow the ‘code of conduct’, saying some overseas missions do interfere in Bangladesh’s domestic affairs.

“It’s sad… some foreign missions here are interfering in our domestic issues … it’s not right as they interfere in domestic issues beyond their own duties,” he said as it was reported that some foreign diplomats held a meeting at the British High Commissioner’s residence here ahead of the Dhaka city mayoral polls.

About the mayoral polls, Momen said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed all concerned to hold a model election without any interference of the government.

“We’ve a very fair and judicious system. We’re very transparent. Our election will be a very transparent one,” he said. Mayoral and councilor polls of both Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) will be held tomorrow.