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US consistent on need for free, fair polls in Bangladesh

US Looking forward to deepening economic ties
UNB . Dhaka
06 Jun 2023 13:42:54 | Update: 06 Jun 2023 19:12:51
US consistent on need for free, fair polls in Bangladesh
— Courtesy Photo

The United States has reiterated its call for holding a free and fair election in Bangladesh.

“We’ve been consistent on the need for Bangladesh to hold free and fair elections,” said National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby at a media briefing at the White House on Monday.

Kirby made the remarks when his attention was drawn to the much-discussed letter from six congressmen to US President Joe Biden, seeking measures for a free and fair election in Bangladesh.

“Look, we’ve been consistent, and I’m aware of the communication,” Kirby said.

To demonstrate that commitment, he said, the State Department recently announced a “3C” visa policy that would restrict visas to individuals who “undermine” Bangladesh’s elections.

On Monday, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam said there are many “exaggerations, lack of information and inconsistency” in the letter from the six US congressmen to President Biden.

“But constructively, we will reach out to all these members,” he told reporters while responding to a question, noting that such activities might increase in the coming days as the election nears.

Talking to reporters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shahriar Alam said they saw such letters in the past, too.

“Over the last seven days, I tried my best to explain where the relationship between Bangladesh and the United States stands today,” he said, adding that propaganda and misinformation against the government was also there earlier.

Meanwhile, the United States says it is looking forward to “deepening” its relationship with Bangladesh in a number of areas – addressing energy, climate issues and economy.

“That being said, we also will continue to push for the freedom of expression of religion and faiths of all people around the world,” Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said during a regular briefing at the US Department of State on Monday.

Responding to a question on the recently held Gazipur City Corporation election, he said, “I’m not going to speak or get into specific election results in another country.”

“What I will just say is what you just heard me say to your colleague, is that we are committed to the promotion of democracy and free and fair elections around the world,” Patel said.

The government, political parties, civil society, and the media in Bangladesh have all expressed their desire that the upcoming national election be free, fair, and peaceful, Patel said.

In support of free, fair and peaceful election, the US announced a new policy that allows them to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals, including current or former officials, pro-government or opposition political party members, and others believed to be responsible for or complicit in “undermining the democratic election process” in Bangladesh, Patel said.