US not concerned about participation

Staff Reporter :: 94 Time View :
Update : Monday, May 15, 2023

The United States is not concerned about participation of any particular party in Bangladesh’s next elections but it wants the polls to be fair and held in a congenial environment, a senior visiting State Department official has said.

“We are not making a comment on whether or not elections are participatory, more we are focused on electoral environment (in Bangladesh),” US Deputy Assistant Secretary Afreen Akhter told  diplomatic correspondent Tanzim Anwar on Saturday in the capital.

She added “ultimately it is up to (political) parties themselves to decide” if they would participate in the elections and “again we are not commenting whether it (requires to be) participatory”.

The senior US diplomat said her country was “not interfering or weighing in with any particular party or candidate” though “we are working to support the electoral environment here”. Akhter’s comments came as asked if BNP or any other particular party’s election participation would concern Washington.

“Let me emphasize that the United State does not support any political party, any candidate, any individual” Akhter said adding “we are not seeking to mediate in your (Bangladesh) election (either)”.

Akhter currently serves in the US state department Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) for Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and the Maldives.

The US official said being a democracy itself the US supports democracies worldwide as it believes the democratic system of government is the best one while this principle prompts her country to support civil societies and democratic institutions across the globe.

“We want to ensure that civil society has the space to express themselves freely, the political opposition has the space to express themselves freely and again the democratic institution that allow for free and fair election environment are in place,” she said.

The US state department official said Washington has decided to send a pre-election observer mission to Bangladesh in the coming months but could not confirm exact timeframe of the mission’s tour.

“The United States is going to be supporting a pre-elections observation mission (in Bangladesh) in the coming months, as Prime Minister Hasina welcomed election observers,” Akhter said.

“We have heard that message from (Bangladesh) foreign minister and (US) foreign secretary as well recently.” She said.The US official said on receipt of the US pre-election observer mission report, Washington would make an assessment and decide if it would send an observer team in Bangladesh during the upcoming election.

Last month, after a bilateral meeting with his US counterpart Antony J Blinken in Washington, foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh welcomes US observers. Akhter led the US delegation at the 6th Indian Ocean Conference (IOC) hosted by Dhaka from May 12 to 13.

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