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15 February, 2018 12:54:22 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 February, 2018 11:43:36 AM

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Bangladesh going thru ‘challenging situation’

Says European Parliament delegation
Diplomatic Correspondent
Bangladesh going thru ‘challenging situation’

Refraining from commenting on the conviction of Khaleda Zia in a graft case, a European Parliament (EP) delegation yesterday said that the court’s decision posed a challenge for the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) and that Bangladesh is going through a challenging situation right now.

The EP delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia also noted that BNP faces challenges in terms of organising and being able to campaign.

It is also of the view that it is the responsibility of the Election Commission to prepare a level playing field to ensure free, fair and inclusive poll.

The delegation has also voiced its concerns in relations to deterioration of human rights situation and problems regarding issues like freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, enforced disappearances.   

“I think we will all agree that the situation is a difficult one. This is a court case.

We won’t comment on the case itself or indeed on the sentence. But, it certainly presents a challenge to Madame Zia’s party,” member of EP (MEP) Jean Lambert, who is the chair of the delegation, told a briefing organised on the premises of the European Union delegation in Dhaka.

“And, we hope to be having meeting with them (BNP leaders) to discuss where are they going next on this. I think, however, that it’s also important for them as a political party to concentrate on election and the challenges they are in,” she said when asked to comment on the contrast that ruling Awami League is on election campaign while the BNP is on the street to get their leader released.

“We know there have been challenges so far in terms of organising, actually in terms of being able to campaign. This is something we raised with the Election Commission (EC)

and we will continue to do,” said Lambert, adding that election is not only about the

election day itself, but also the period in the lead up to the poll.

“It’s down to the EC what it could do to enforce the existing rules and so that it is fair to all parties that are contesting. But, we appreciate it is a challenging situation at the moment,” she said.

“Elections are of profound interest to us. We met the Election Commission today and discussed with them about budget, capacity and management of the next election and how that can be an election which will be inclusive, free and fair where we hope all parties will be willing to stand for election to make sure that the people of Bangladesh have a real choice at the ballot box,” said the chair of the delegation.

“This is something of real importance for the people who deserve choice,” she said, reminding that the EU remains a major donor and an increasingly important trading partner.

The relationship between Bangladesh and EU is very much directed in the way where the bloc wants to see Bangladesh thrive and prosper, said the MEP elected from the United Kingdom. When asked if the EC is capable of conducting a free, fair, inclusive and credible election, she expressed optimism that the EC would act as an independent body that will be able to safeguard people’s right to choose.  

Lambert said that the EU has been approached to send an election observer mission and any decision has not been yet taken.

The EU wants to monitor election, she said, but there is nothing to monitor if the election is not contested like in 2014.

When asked to specify about the deterioration of human rights, freedom of assembly and expression, Lambert said that the members of the civil society talked about things like draft Digital Security Act, ICT Act and Foreign Donation Act. She laid emphasis on the importance of the constructive and proportional criticism of the government by the civil society.

SR

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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