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No impartial polls possible under Sheikh Hasina, BNP to US team

BNP on Monday told the visiting joint IRI and NDI pre-election assessment mission of the US that no credible election is possible under the current regime which has given vote rigging an institutional shape.

“We have naturally told them (US team) that no impartial election is possible under Sheikh Hasina,” said BNP standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury.

Briefing reporters after a meeting with the US pre-election assessment mission, he said the Awami League government snatched the voting rights of the people of Bangladesh in the last two national elections, reports UNB.

The BNP leader said they also told the US team that people could not exercise their voting rights in the last two elections.

“The situation has not changed now but worsened. On the contrary, the scheme of stealing votes and torturing the opposition has become stronger. They (govt) have given the scheme of stealing votes an institutional shape,” Khosru said

He said the government has devised a vote-rigging scheme involving the judiciary, law enforcers, government officials, businessmen involved in looting, and politicians. “They’re now working together to steal the votes of the people of Bangladesh by implementing the scheme.”

Replying to a question, the BNP leader said the US team did not say anything about the election as they came to Bangladesh to know the opinions and observations of all stakeholders of the election.

He said the US pre-election assessment mission wanted to know from them all aspects relating to the next national election.

Khosru said they told the US team that the Sheikh Hasina regime must quit and, dissolve the parliament and a neutral government have to be formed and the Election Commission must be reconstituted to hold a fair, neutral, and acceptable election with international standards.

He said the people of Bangladesh have no doubt that they will not be able to cast their votes unless the election is not held under a polls-time non-party government.

Earlier, the six-member joint IRI and NDI pre-election assessment mission of the US sat in a meeting with a seven-member BNP delegation at about 10:20 am at the BNP Chairperson’s Gulshan office.

BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir led the BNP team and presented the party’s observations about the next general election to be held in Bangladesh either at the end of this year or early January next year.

Apart from Fakhrul, BNP standing committee members Abdul Moyeen Khan, Nazrul Islam Khan, and Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, party chairperson’s adviser Mohammad Ismail Zabiullah, party organising secretary Shama Obaed and human rights affairs secretary Asaduzzaman Asad were also present at the meeting.

A six-member joint International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) pre-election assessment mission (PEAM) arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday to follow electoral preparations and conduct an independent and impartial assessment.

From October 8 to 12, they will meet with a diverse group of election stakeholders including government officials, political party leaders, election authorities, civil society, and others.

The delegation is co-chaired by Karl F. Inderfurth, Former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs and Bonnie Glick, Former Deputy USAID Administrator. It also includes Maria Chin Abdullah, former member of the House of Representatives, Malaysia; Jamil Jaffer, former associate counsel to the President of the United States; Manpreet Singh Anand, NDI regional director for Asia-Pacific; and Johanna Kao, IRI senior director, Asia-Pacific Division.

The team had a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh today on Sunday.

The delegation will conduct its assessment in accordance with the laws of Bangladesh and consistent with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation which was signed in 2005 at the United Nations.

Following the conclusion of its activities, the delegation will release a statement of its key findings, analysis of the pre-election environment, and practical recommendations to enhance the credibility of the process and citizen confidence in the elections.