Bangladesh’s delay in issuing visas disappoints United States, concerns UK

Anita Mathur

The United Kingdom has condemned recent political violence in Bangladesh and laid emphasis on a democratic election as the national election is scheduled to be held on December 30. “We urge all in Bangladesh to refrain from further violence,” said British Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field MP in a statement.

He also urged all to deliver a democratic election, give Bangladeshis a properly representative Parliament that can propel their country to greater economic prosperity.

He expressed concerns that some civil society organizations in Bangladesh are being “prevented” from observing the election.

“Independent domestic and international observers have a crucial role in helping to support a free and transparent process for the elections,” Mark Field said in a statement that he shared on Twitter.

The British High Commission in Dhaka also shared the statement on its verified Facebook page.

Meanwhile, US Department of State in a statement expressed disappointment for delay in granting visa to the election observers. In a statement is said, “The United States is disappointed by the Government of Bangladesh’s inability to grant credentials and issue visas within the timeframe necessary to conduct a credible international monitoring mission to the majority of international election monitors from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), which the United States funded through the National Democratic Institute. As a result, ANFREL was forced to cancel its observation mission for the December 30 national election. The lack of an international observation mission makes it even more important for the Government of Bangladesh to complete the accreditation of all the local NGOs that constitute the Election Working Group, which includes some funded by USAID, so they can conduct the vital work of monitoring the election.

“In the lead up to any democratic election there must be space for peaceful expression and assembly; for independent media to do its job covering electoral developments; for participants to have access to information; and for all individuals to be able to partake in the electoral process without harassment, intimidation, or violence. We encourage the Government of Bangladesh to uphold its commitment to a democratic process by ensuring all Bangladeshis are free to peacefully express themselves and participate in December 30 election.‎”

The latest statement from the US State Department may already leave wrong signal with the US policymakers about Bangladesh government’s willingness in ensuring a free and fair election.

Immediately after this statement, a source in Washington DC told Blitz, by discouraging the foreign and local observers, Election Commission and the Bangladesh government are already giving signals of their intention of holding another controversial election. It said, opposition parties in Bangladesh had already expressed serious concerns about the possibility of a rigged election as according to media reports, public support of the ruling Awami League already is at decline. Even Indian newspapers have predicted of a “humiliating defeat” for the ruling party if the election is held in free and fair manner.

It said, the US Congress has recently passed a resolution (HR-1169) demanding a free and fair election in Bangladesh. US Senate also has pressed similar demand. But it seems – Bangladesh authorities are ignoring demand of the international community.

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