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Momen calls US visa policy supportive to PM’s commitment

BSS . Dhaka
25 May 2023 16:47:51 | Update: 25 May 2023 17:40:36
Momen calls US visa policy supportive to PM’s commitment
Road Transport and Bridge Minister Obaidul Quader — BSS/File

Bangladesh on Thursday said the new US visa policy was supportive to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s commitment for credible elections as Washington overnight issued a pre-emptive warning against turbulence centring the polls saying it would restrict visas to Bangladeshis who undermine elections.

“The new US policy rather made our position stronger to hold the free and fair election,” foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said in a media briefing expressing Dhaka's reaction to the Washington announcement on Wednesday.

He said the “policy is good, nothing to worry about it” and added it mounted no extra pressure on the Bangladesh government while Dhaka’s relations with Washington remained excellent.

The foreign minister expected the new US visa policy would make cautious opposition political parties not to wage any violence over the elections.

“This visa restriction is not only for the ruling party, for opposition (parties) as well,” he said, adding that the government doesn’t want arson, violence and destruction.

The United States said on Wednesday it would restrict visas to Bangladeshis who undermine elections, in a pre-emptive warning as fears mount of turbulence in the upcoming vote.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was supporting “free, fair and peaceful national elections” and would target either pro-government or opposition supporters in the deeply polarised nation.

US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken yesterday announced the new US visa policy to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.

Momen said his US counterpart had informed him about the new visa policy weeks ago when Blinken lauded highly Sheikh Hasina’s commitment to hold a free and fair election.

“This policy support Prime Minister Hasina’s stated commitment to hold free and fair election in Bangladesh and allow the US to act when Bangladeshi citizens or officials from all political parties undermine the critical demand of democracy,” Momen quoted a Blinken letter as saying in a letter to him.

Bangladesh, Momen said adding that Awami League always believes in voters.

In his yesterday’s announcement, Blinken said the policy includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services.

“I am announcing this policy to lend our support to all those seeking to advance democracy in Bangladesh,” he said in a statement.

'Govt to resist attempts to obstruct nat’l polls'

In another development, Road Transport and Bridge Minister Obaidul Quader said that the government wants to make the upcoming national election free and fair and it will resist if anyone attempts to impede the next election.

The Minister said this after paying homage to national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam on his 124th birth anniversary at his graveyards at Dhaka University.

Quader assured that the government will extend all possible cooperation to the Election Commission to hold a free and fair election.

Replying to a question, Quader, the Awami League general secretary, said those who set fire to buses, and vandalise those in the name of movement ahead of the election are engaged in political violence.

About the non-communal spirit of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, the minister said, "We want to be inspired by the non-communal humanist spirit of poet Kazi Nazrul Islam."

Awami League Joint General Secretary AFM Bahauddin Nasim, Organising Secretaries Ahmed Hossain, SM Kamal Hossain, Science and Technology Affairs Secretary Engineer Abdus Sabur, Office Secretary Barrister Biplob Barua and other central leaders were present on the occasion.